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Smithsonian Institution 



Alexander Wetmore 

1 c) 4 6 Sixth Secretary 1955 

LA' ^-^^^^^^^/\}f\j^_ 







By Francis C. :^{icholas, M. Sc, Ph.D. 

Iloii'y F.A.M.N.H , Ilon'y Asc. Inst. . ■naica, 
HoiVy C.M.N.Y.A.Sc. 

Around the Caribbean 

and ..^..-% 

Across Panama/ 


With Maps and Half-Tones | 
From Rare Photographs 

Boston (El New York 
H. M. Caldwell Company 



iiri -fiiniiTi-infi-B 

Copyright^ IQOJ, 
By H. M. Caldwell Company 

Colonial Pregg 

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co. 

Boston, Mass., U. S. A. 


Acknowledgments of gratitude are due to 
Dr. Arturo de Brigard, Consul General of 
Colombia, for valuable plates and illustrations ; 
and to W. R. Gillespie, Esq., of the American- 
Honduras Company, for photographs of the 
Rio Patuca and it's savannahs ; and to Dr. 
Juan J. UUoa, Consul General of Costa Rica, 
for interesting photographs. 




SI »> ^o r 


Of all the regions adjacent to the United 
States none are so attractive or present such 
varied conditions of development, scenic beauty, 
and commercial opportunity as the countries 
about the Caribbean Sea. From the islands of 
the West Indies, with their teeming population, 
some of them the most densely peopled spots in 
the world, to the low lands of Central America, 
where, in the solitude of the wilderness, a human 
voice is all but unknown, we find a varied coun- 
try. It is a vast region surrounding the pleas- 
ant waters of the Caribbean Sea, inhabited by 
divers people, and presenting for our considera- 
tion snow-capped mountains, temperate uplands, 
broad savannahs and grassy plains, open 
valleys, dense jungles, and mighty rivers pour- 
ing their torrents of muddy water into the sea. 
One meets Spaniards, Englishmen, Negroes, and 
Indians of many different tribes. Of products 
everything known to the American tropics is 


to be had. Commerce is flourishing as yet only 
in its infancy, but with the opening of work on 
the Isthmian Canal a great impetus will be given 
to all this region; and many will turn to the 
South, some looking for business in the cities, 
others going to the wilderness on projects of de- 
velopment, or seeking to gather products. 

For my part, I have visited almost every 
point of the Caribbean regions, and expect to 
go there again many times. What has hap- 
pened to me, is similar to what others may 
expect ; descriptions of a country are all very 
well, but incidents and adventures of the road 
give a much clearer idea of the conditions and 
of the circumstances which one must expect to 



















Going South 1 

Camping on the Coast of Spanish Hon- 
duras 4 

Indians and Mosquitoes ... 17 

Wild Animals and a Panther at Night 30 

Alone in an Indian Village . . 37 
A Startling Proposition and a Heavy 

Flood . . . . . .45 

A Row IN Camp 51 

Alone with the Indians Again . . 66 
Over the Mountains with Indian 

Murderers 65 

Treachery and Poison .... 79 
Perplexities and Spanish - American 

Hospitality 96 

Examining a Mine under Difficulties 107 
Over the Mountains on a Race against 

Time . 120 

A Rough Journey to the Coast . . 130 
Honduras to Costa Rica via New 

Orleans 138 

The Death Dance of the Talamanca 

Indians ...... 144 

Up the Atrato River in Colombia . 175 

The Wilderness op the Choco Country 185 



XIX. A Canoe Route from the Caribbean 

TO THE Pacific .... 197 

XX. Across Panama 215 

XXI. The Indians and Resources of Panama 226 
XXII. Panama and Nicaragua Routes for the 

Isthmian Canal .... 235 

XXIII. Hunting for Gold in Antioquia . . 242 

XXIV. A Canoe Voyage in the Open Sea . 251 
XXV. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta 

Mountains 258 

■ XXVI. Among the Goajira Indians . . . 294 

XXVII. Ramon, a Story of the Goajiras . 307 

XXVIII. Across Country to Bogota . . . 336 

XXIX. Through the West Indies . . . 351 

XXX. A Faithful Guide 371 



Pine lands and savannahs near the Eio Patuca, on the 

way to the Indian village {See page 38) Frontispiece 

Map of the Caribbean regions v 

Map of the Caribbean regions and localities where 

adventures occurred vii 

The Eio Patuca .26 

A river of the tropical low lands .... 52 

Mosquito bars prepared for the night near a tropical 

river 70 

Jungles in the low lands of Central America . . 134 
Entrance to the king's house. " A shed protected the 
entrance from the rains, and formed an open 
veranda where horses were tied, and the Indians 

gathered at times " 146 

Josecito. Heir to the kingship among the Talamanca 

Indians 150 

Josecito 15g 

The private house of Antonio, King of the Talamancas 160 
Talamanca Indians. Men who are almost wild crea- 
tures of the woods. The Indian on^he left is the 
man who prepared the models of the dead as if for 

bnrial 166 

Model of a dead Talamancan Indian prepared for lay- 
ing out in the woods. A tambour back of the 
model, and above it articles of adornment used at 
the dance for the dead . . . . . . 172 



Cartagena, Colombia. View outside the city wall . 178 

Natives catching fish. Men who tell of the quicharo 
and other strange objects believed to inhabit their 
rivers 190 

Map illustrating the canoe route from the Caribbean 

to the Pacific 198 

Cartagena, Colombia. View across the harbour, where 
the principal trading centre will be located when 
the canoe route from the Caribbean to the Pacific 
is developed 212 

Low tide in the Pacific off Panama .... 216 

A Spanish-American country town. Through the 
American tropics there is great similarity among 
the towns and villages, and all look very much 
alike 220 

Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal . . . 224 

Maps of Nicaragua and Panama Canal routes drawn 

on exactly the same scale 236 

Crater of Poas, one of the volcanoes of Costa Rica, 
among the mountains south of the Nicaragua 
Canal route 238 

Crater of Irazu. A silent volcano of Costa Rica over- 
looking the Nicaragua Canal route . . . 240 

City of Barranquilla, Colombia. One of the most 

rapidly developing places in South America . 242 

Market-place in Madellen, Colombia .... 246 

Street in Dibulla, a little town at the back of the Sierra 

Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia . 258 

Portrait of an Aurohuaco Indian. The people who 
deserted their city when our party proposed to 
visit them 278 

An Aurohuaco Indian, one of the men who might have 
rolled great rocks down on us from the mountains 
had we remained in their country . . . 284 



A Goajira Indian woman of high position among her 

people 296 

Collection of articles used by the Goajira Indians 
exhibited at the American Museum of Natural 
History, New York 306 

Goajira Indians. A marriageable girl offered by her 

uncles 310 

Belts used by the Goajira Indians. Their principal 

clothing during war and hunting expeditions . 314 

Goajira Indians prepared for hunting or war . . 318 

Tumas. Beautiful red beads found in ancient graves 
among the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta moun- 
tains, used by the Goajira Indians and considered 
priceless. The bullet-shaped specimens at base of 
picture are similar to the bead given to Ramon . 332 

The road over the Andes to Bogota, Colombia . . 342 

Scene in a Spanish-American city of the uplands. 

Bolivar Square, Bogota, Colombia . . . 346 

Steamboat on the Magdalena River .... 350 

A house in the interior of Jamaica. Occupied by one 
of the independent land-owning negroes of that 
island 358 

The wild mountains of the interior of Jamaica, British 

West Indies 364 

In tropical America the poor labour under heavy 

burdens 372 






One cannot explore the Caribbean regions in 
a month or even in a year, and it is some time 
ago that I found myself with a considerable 
undertaking in view, the exploration of all that 
country for the South American Land & Ex- 
ploration Co., Ltd. 

Plans had been carefully considered, and I was 
to go alone, use my own judgment as to finding 
companions on the way, and explore the gold 
regions, the timber lands, the rubber forests, 
and other resources of the tropics. I crossed 



and recrossed the Caribbean Sea many times, 
but for convenience in relating all that hap- 
pened I will crowd the incidents of a long period 
into a tale as of one continuous journey. 

Going south is very easy. Comfortable 
steamers leave New York at regular intervals ; 
the traveller at ease on his way watches the 
waters of the ocean change day by day to the 
deep blue of the tropical seas, feels the air grow 
warmer as the breezes come up from the south; 
a glimpse of green islands in the distance, be- 
yond them the sweeping trade-winds and tur- 
bulent blue waters of the Caribbean ; then a line 
of mountains, gray in the distance, and in a 
little time the steamer anchors near the shore. 
A strange odour of swamps and forests fills 
the air, a damp clinging heat settles oppres- 
sively about one. Presently a crew of natives 
comes aboard, some in rough cotton clothes, 
one or two in gaudy, ill-fitting uniforms, and 
some dressed in a mixture of both, looking 
strangely incongruous and not very clean. 
Now one is to leave the steamer, and the ex- 
pectant traveller goes ashore with the motley 
crew of natives, amused perhaps at noticing 
how they all shout out orders and direct one 



another. When the boat reaches land, one may 
find a rough wharf, but at most places only a 
lot of sheds marks the landing, where there is 
a stretch of white sand burning hot under the 
sun of the tropics, a few straggling bushes, 
some cocoanut-trees, — ragged specimens toss- 
ing to and fro in the wind, or drooping listlessly 
if the day is still, — patches of coarse grass, 
a vault of blue overhead where surely a group 
of buzzards will be circling about, and every- 
where intense burning heat. One hurries to the 
nearest protecting shade, and is glad when per- 
mission is received from the custom-house au- 
thorities to leave the landing-place and seek 
the interior of one of the low, cool houses in 
the city beyond. 

Under such conditions, I arrived at the little 
seaport of Truxillo, in Spanish Honduras. 
The details of the scene were not pleasing, but 
the broad expanse of the blue ocean, the intense 
sky, the great jungles stretching away below 
the city, and the lofty mountains toward the 
interior combined under the flood of glowing 
sunlight to form a scene of dreamy loveliness. 




A FEW days in Truxillo, and I started down 
the coast in a small sailboat with some adven- 
turous Americans and a goodly company of 
negro passengers. 

These daring Americans were taking me to 
see property and mines, in which they, with some 
of my friends in New York, were interested. 
Their time was passed in praising each other, 
drinking, telling me of the great things they 
had done, and in doing me for money. It was 
all part of a prearranged plan, and had to be 

As we stood along the coast I saw a succession 
of low, sandy beaches, a tangled growth of 
jungle beyond, and then a range of blue moun- 
tains in the distance. 

After three days under a tropical sun, the 



captain informed us that we had arrived off our 
destination, the inlet of Brewer's Lagoon, and 
that he would put about for the shore, remind- 
ing us that he did not guarantee a safe entrance, 
and in case of loss the damage was for our ac- 

Passengers were ordered below, but the cap- 
tain allowed me to stay on deck, perhaps because 
I had taken the tiller for part of the time on the 
way down, and had gotten along fairly well 
sailing the boat. 

" What will happen to us," I asked, " if the 
boat runs aground? " 

" Do you see those big waves ? " the captain 
replied, in the low, deep voice common to the 
negroes, but with the most perfect enunciation, 
and no sign of negro dialect. " There are the 
shifting sand-banks; the channel is never the 
same ; it is always changing ; if we ground, the 
boat will be beaten to pieces; our people will 
swim ashore, but the sharks will eat white men ; 
you were not made for these countries. Don't 
talk to me now." 

Surely a pleasant prospect. I had sailed 
many a small boat in rough water, and was not 
at all afraid of a swim ; but the sharks, — 



how awful it would be to feci their great jaws 
close on a leg, and then be torn to pieces by a 
company of them attracted by the blood! 

" Are there really many sharks ? " I asked, 
in a whisper. 

" Yes ; don't talk," answered the captain. 

A big negro called Tom,- a perfect specimen 
of health and strength, said to me : " See that 
swirl in the water over there, and see that thing 
moving just ahead of the boat. They are gath- 
ering all around us. Here dead animals float out 
to sea ; that is why they come." 

We were approaching the shore now. Great, 
muddy waves rose up with a threatening comb, 
rippled into a foaming line along the top, and 
then settled down again. I could see no sign 
of an inlet, but still the little boat kept on, the 
captain now giving orders in his native tongue, 
a remnant of African memories used all along 
the coast. The men stood at their places, and 
then, swinging the sail full to the wind, the cap- 
tain stood directly for the shore. For a moment 
we ran quietly before the wind, then a great sigh 
seemed to rise up among the waves, and with a 
trembling and dragging the boat went grinding 
along the bottom. Behind us came a rolling 



wave, in which, as it rushed toward us, I pic- 
tured thousands of evilly disposed sharks; in 
another instant the boat went staggering on, 
then it came down on its side, and seemed to be 
endeavouring to bury itself in the sand; waves 
were now breaking all about us, and we were 
not more than fifty yards from the shore. Once 
more the boat rose up and staggered forward, 
came down with a bang, that sent us all on our 
backs; the next instant a wave dashed over us, 
and then, with a grinding and dragging, while 
the men shouted out to each other, the boat 
seemed to make a final effort and floated gently 
into quiet water behind the bar. Here a cur- 
rent was running out to sea like a mill-race, 
and it was some time before she could be brought 
around to the wind and started toward the inlet. 

" We disappointed the sharks that time," the 
captain said, while the men began making vows 
that they would never come again with such a 
heavy cargo. 

Then all the passengers began talking at 
once, but I felt little patience to hear them, and, 
going to the bow of the boat, sat on the guard- 
rail beside Tom, who gave a kind of sympa- 
thetic rub up against me, a movement expres- 



sive of satisfaction, such as a great dog gives 
at times, and then said, " You needn't look so 
white and frightened about it; we would have 
taken care of you, anyway." 

A landing was made on the inner side of the 
sand point at Brewer's Lagoon. I scrambled 
over the side of the boat, and immediately a 
painful, smarting sting developed on my face 
and hands, caused by the sand-flies, tiny ene- 
mies, too numerous to combat; and soon they 
converted our hopeful company into as quar- 
relsome a set of individuals as ever made them- 
selves disagreeable to one another in a tropical 
country. The negro sailors did not mind the 
sand-flies very much, and they soon had the 
cargo on shore ; then the boat prepared to go 
away. I wanted Tom to stay with me, but he 
would not hear of it, and urged that I should 
return with them, but that could not be. Tom 
had been a faithful servant, and I felt I should 
miss him sadly; for continued good nature, 
strong, steady muscles, and a faithful spirit 
are rarely found, especially in the tropics. As 
the boat sailed away, I was lonely and dis- 
couraged, and determined that when I returned 



to Truxillo I would engage Tom for a long 
cruise; but I never saw him after. 

A circumstance not a little to be regretted 
in a traveller's life, is the parting from faithful 
people. One meets with many who are compan- 
ionable and worthy of esteem, — rough Indian 
guides, courageous and true; vigorous negroes, 
ready to dare anything in one's service; cour- 
teous officials, kind friends, and charming host- 
esses ; and at parting one resolves he will meet 
them at some future time, but often they are 
never seen again. 

On the sand point at Brewer's Lagoon our 
camp settled itself to await the pleasure of the 
Mosquito Indians who were to take us on our 
way. The days were not pleasant, but after I 
found that a mixture of kerosene oil, carbolic 
acid, and vaseline, if smeared thick enough on 
the hands and face, would keep the sand-flies 
from bothering, life became tolerable, and the 
evenings were always charming, for then the 
sand-flies went away, and the mosquitoes did not 
come till late. 

When one has nothing but corned meat in 
tins, it is really noticeable with what eagerness 
one starts on the chase, and, when evening 



came, I was always ready to take my rifle and 
follow any guide who might be willing to lead 
the way. At our camp there was a negro called 
Big George, who stood six feet four, and knew 
all the country round about. Frequently, after 
sunset, he and I would go among the sand-dunes 
looking for deer. We never got anything. 
Big George said I talked too much, but I am 
not so sure about that. 

One night we determined to follow the beach 
looking for turtles. It was a beautiful experi- 
ence; under the intense moonlight the sand 
looked like a pathway of silver stretching out 
in the distance, with the ocean and the jungle, 
one on either hand, each shrouded with the mys- 
tery of night; from the ocean the sound of the 
waves breaking along the shore, and from the 
jungle the cries of wild animals — weird voices 
from creatures unseen. Strange surroundings, 
intensified by the presence of fierce semi-naked 
Indians, who, following one after the other, 
went like shadows stealing silently along the 
sand ! 

On and on we went, our hopes frequently 
raised, to be followed only by disappointment. 
Sometimes it was a log glistening in the moon- 



light; again a patch of shells would so much 
resemble a turtle that out steps would quicken 
impulsively. Finally, Big George said it was 
of no use; the moon was too clear. But just 
then something unusually bright in the distance 
caught my attention, and hurrying on, we saw 
that this time a really large turtle was just 
before us, resting quietly on the sand. Now 
all was excitement. Nearer and nearer we crept. 
The turtle, all unsuspecting, remained quiet; 
then suddenly its head was raised for an instant 
only, and it started clumsily for the water. 
Immediately the Indians were upon it, and for 
a moment I could not tell which was Indian and 
which was turtle. In the general confusion one 
man was sent rolling over and over at a blow 
from one of the flippers; in an instant he was 
on it again, and then the struggle was over; 
the turtle was turned on its back, hauled to a 
safe place, and we returned triumphantly to 

The next morning four Indians said they 
would bring the turtle in with ropes if I would 
loan them. I thought they must be very strong, 
and rather doubted their- ability, but I gave 



them such things as they wanted, and, taking 
my rifle, followed, to see what they would do. 
After a tramp of about three hours, we 
reached the turtle, finding it unharmed and just 
as it had been left the night before. The In- 
dians began at once tying up the turtle for the 
return to camp. I could not help admiring 
their ingenuity. A rope was tied to each flip- 
per, when the turtle was allowed to crawl back 
to the water, where the Indians, holding the 
ropes from the shore, could guide it as they 
wished. We went toward camp with some en- 
thusiasm at the thought of the supply of fresh 
meat that was swimming along before us as we 
walked rapidly over the hard sand. 

Presently we came to the mouth of a river, 
where we all crowded into a small canoe, one 
man holding the turtle, and three attempting 
to paddle. But the turtle was too strong for 
us, and began at once dragging the canoe down 
the river toward the breakers on the bar. Here 
was danger; around us an ever-increasing com- 
pany of sharks came, gathering closer; some 
even brushed against the canoe, rocking it vio- 
lently, while the efforts of the turtle threatened 
to upset us every moment, and once in that water 



there would have been little chance for us. We 
were now nearing the breakers, and the canoe 
began to race ominously. I called to the men 
to cut the ropes and let the turtle go. One 
seized the hatchet, but at that instant the turtle 
turned down the coast instead of crossing the 
bar, and this gave the Indians a chance to reach 
the other shore, and we soon had the turtle 
hauled up close by camp. That night he was 
made into soup, a whole turtle stewed in a great 
iron pot, and it was good. 

As the days went on, my companions con- 
tinued to drink freely, and presently the camp 
ran dry, that is, all the spirits had been con- 
sumed. This wasn't my fault, and I was rather 
well satisfied ; but my companions were most 
unhappy, and the superintendent ordered that 
I immediately provide the money for a fresh 
supply. I had all the funds for the expedition, 
which, in some respects, was fortunate, though 
I hardly think that expedition would ever have 
gone to water; yet, except the money had been 
in my hands, it would never have gone very 

After thinking for a few moments, I declined 
to provide more drink, and prepared to face a 



storm, which came on in good earnest, — a wind 
of words before which I finally weakened. I was 
still very young then, and had frequently read 
of the necessity of spirits on an exploring ex- 
pedition, especially for snake-bites, exhaustion, 

I decided to go myself to a trading-station 
some miles away, and bring to camp six bottles 
of cheap liquor, — a mixture of alcohol and 
other things, called brandy, which ought to 
have been more fatal than a snake-bite. 

Taking two Indians, I started for a long 
tramp to the trading-station. There was little 
of incident, but much that was beautiful, the 
influence of which was probably enhanced by 
the sense of harmony and the satisfaction I 
had left behind among the members of the expe- 
dition. Through dense jungles, the trail led 
on and on, the Indians never hesitating for an 
instant, till finally we reached an open savannah, 
where we stopped to rest, with a beautiful ex- 
panse of green before us, containing some 
square miles of grass, dotted with groups of 
fine trees, through which the distant mountains 
could be seen, a bold outline in beautiful pro- 



Starting on again, we presently came to the 
traders' camp, where I bought six bottles of 
brandy, and, after resting my men and giving 
them a feed, started back for camp, each Indian 
carrying three bottles of the brandy and look- 
ing the picture of misery while they trudged 
along in front of me, endeavouring to get away 
by themselves. Finally they became worked up 
into such a state of excitement that, for safety, 
I promised to give them each a drink when we 
got to camp, and after that I could not go fast 
enough for them. 

At sunset we reached camp, and all came 
crowding around eager for brandy. One bottle 
was given to the superintendent, who immedi- 
ately partook liberally himself; and then he 
began treating all hands, and soon came back 
for a fresh supply. But I had placed the five 
remaining bottles in a suitable box, nailed down 
the lid, and put my seal over the cracks, as one 
does when shipping bullion; then I announced 
that that brandy was mine, and threatened all 
the law and prosecution of the courts on any 
one who dared to break my seal. Then there 
was a racket, before which I winced and trem- 
bled, but would not give in ; for, though I was 



afraid all through, I was mad also, and that 
helped me out. 

It was amusing to see the superintendent look 
at the impression of my crest on the box, and 
then turn away doubtfully and consult with the 
Spaniards ; but they seemed to consider that I 
had the law on my side, and it is remarkable 
what a little thing will hold men in check. 
Finally the camp quieted down, and after a 
cold supper I went to bed. Before I turned in, 
the cook, a rough fellow named Brown, slapped 
me on the back and said, " Wal, now, for a kid, 
that war purty well done," and then he went 
away laughing. I was very indignant that any 
one should call me kid, and went to sleep plan- 
ning how it should be stopped. 





Now the days dragged and time was heavy 
on our hands, and it appeared as though the 
Indians never would be ready to take us on. 
but one morning a whole fleet of canoes ap- 
peared, brought by a goodly company of In- 
dians who had come to take us to their village. 

Under the direction of their chief, our goods 
were shortly distributed among the canoes, and 
in a long procession we started across the la- 
goon, a sheet of water formed quite the same 
as the shallow lagoons along our Atlantic coast, 
but surrounded with vegetation of bewildering 
density. The water was very shallow, and the 
canoes made good progress. After some hours 
we saw in the distance a collection of cocoanut- 
trees floating as it were above the water. They 
mark one of the principal towns of the Mos- 



quito Indians, a place where dark stories linger, 
tales of the Indians and their cruelty. Arriv- 
ing at this place in the late afternoon, I saw 
only a low, muddy shore, and groups of huts 
clustered together among the trees. 

As we came up to the landing, women and 
children crowded about, talking eagerly, and 
anxious to see everything we had. Climbing 
over the side of a great canoe, I stood for the 
first time on the native land of the Indians, and 
it would have been hard to tell which were the 
more interested, I or the Indians crowding about 
me. The girls were graceful ; the younger ones 
beautiful. The children were bright and pretty, 
like little fairies, almost ; but the older women 
were worn and bent by labour. The men showed 
all too clearly the signs of unrestricted dissipa- 
tion. They were of rather dark skin, and 
among some there were marked traces of negro 
blood. Their huts were oblong, rounded at the 
ends ; they were made by driving palmetto- 
trunks into the ground and covered with a 
thatched roof of palm-leaves. The children 
wore but little clothing; the women used a 
short skirt and little shawl, and the men wore 
pantaloons and a short coat, only partially cov- 



ering the abdomen. All were friendly, and in 
a very short time willing hands took our sup- 
plies from the canoes, and then made us welcome, 
with presents of fruits and game. All our 
things were stored in one of the larger huts, and 
we were given a place near by, in which we were 
to live, — a very comfortable hut, with mahog- 
any boards for the floor. 

Soon people grew tired of looking at us, and 
went about their own affairs. The women busied 
themselves preparing food, and presently seated 
before the huts were groups of people, eating, 
talking, and laughing, evidently secure in the 
abundance of the present and the promises of 
the future, with no care at all. 

In a little time the family groups began to 
disappear, and laughing and talking could be 
heard from under heavy canopies; and from 
the surrounding jungles a distant hum, rising 
up and dying away, could be heard constantly 
growing louder, and apparently drawing nearer. 
Most of the people had disappeared by this 
time, and the chief now shouted to us, " Get 
under the mosquito canopies; don't you hear 
them coming? " 

We had been provided with canopies before 



leaving the settlements, and, finding that the 
Indians had been careful to hang them in our 
hut, we hurried under cover. For a time I lay 
awake, listening in wonder to the myriads of 
mosquitoes that came swarming about. This 
was the Mosquito Coast, and I began to under- 
stand how, at night, the mosquitoes are a real 
danger, and to sleep without a heavy canopy 
would truly mean death. 

A day or two later, in the early morning, 
when the fog was thick among the marshes, and 
the mist hung low over the water, I left the 
little Indian village under the cocoanut-trees on 
Brewer's Lagoon, and began a long journey, 
canoeing up the Rio Patuca of Spanish Hon- 
duras. I had been pleasantly entertained at 
the village, but my late friends were apparently 
so indifferent at my going that I began to lose 
faith in the Indians, while stories that I had 
heard of their cruelty and treachery were con- 
stantly suggesting themselves to my thoughts. 
My white companions were rough, boasting, 
quarrelsome men, not pleasant travelling com- 
panions; and from them I separated myself, 
and found a comfortable place in one of the 
smaller canoes alone with three Indians, about 



whom I really knew nothing. Soon the Indian 
village was lost, in the gray light of the morn- 
ing, and then we were surrounded by fog and 
desolation. Along the shores of the lagoon 
were dead or dying trees, gaunt and naked; 
about us were quantities of water-fowl, and in 
the water were many watchful alligators. Our 
progress was slow, for the shallow water was 
choked with plants and decaying vegetation. 
About noon we made a branch of the Patuca 
River, where a volume of muddy water came 
pouring out of a narrow channel, surrounded 
by great stretches of marsh land covered with 
tall reeds and extending for miles. Progress 
was slow, and the clumsy boat designed by the 
superintendent of the expedition could scarcely 
be held against the current. 

By nightfall we had made perhaps one or 
two miles, and then, the mosquitoes appearing, 
we were forced to prepare a hasty camp on a 
mud-bank. Such a night ! Before my mosquito 
bar was up, I had caught a net full of them, 
and as the hours wore away held a boxing- 
match with myself, and perhaps killed some 
mosquitoes, but I am not sure; in that country 
mosquitoes are different from the harmless little 



insects at home. They are Hke rubber; to kill 
them one must use force enough to cause some 
inconvenience, and that night I punished my- 
self severely. Next morning came with fog and 
light rain, just the weather for mosquitoes; 
and the Indians predicted that we would have 
a bad time. We didn't stop to eat much, and 
were soon under way again, making better prog- 
ress than on the day before. I travelled with 
my three Indians, who were working vigorously 
to keep up with the larger boat. They were 
almost naked, and the quantities of mosquitoes 
made their flesh quiver; yet they bent deter- 
minedly to their work. Presently we passed 
under a group of willow-trees, and I picked a 
bunch of soft withes to keep the mosquitoes from 
my hands and face. One of the withes was very 
long, and I found that by using a little energy 
I could send it gently over the backs and shoul- 
ders of my suff^ering men, and at the same time 
protect my own face and hands. Presently my 
white companions noticed my efforts, and from 
the larger boat set up a derisive shouting, say- 
ing, with many unpleasant words, that it was 
no use to do anything for an Indian, I would 
learn quickly enough. The Indians said noth- 


ing; neither did they make any sign of thanks, 
though at each derisive shout and taunting re- 
mark I noticed an ugly light flash in their eyes, 
but there was no other change of expression. 
Then we fell behind the big boat, and I was 
alone with them. Dinner-time came; the big 
boat was far in advance of us, and my men had 
nothing to eat. Their leader asked me, " You 
eat now.? " and on being told that I would, 
stopped the canoe at a convenient point and 
spread out the bountiful lunch that had been 
provided for me. Then they went back to the 
canoe and sat in stolid dejection, waiting for 
me to finish. I immediately called them, pro- 
posing to divide what food I had equally. They 
came with some hesitation ; each took the offered 
food, but made no sign of thanks, not even an 
expression of gratitude on their faces. My dog 
received a share of the food, and it laid its head 
affectionately on my knee and wagged its tail 
in appreciation; but the Indians simply ate, 
and made no sign. I was disgusted. Truly 
there was reason in all the derision of my white 
companions. We started on presently, but there 
was a sort of misunderstanding among us. I 
sat in the canoe, brushing the mosquitoes from 


my hands and face, and let the men shift for 
themselves, thinking that there was no use do- 
ing anything for an Indian; but common hu- 
manity could not bear the sight of their quiver- 
ing, naked flesh, and the next moment I was 
brushing the mosquitoes from them, as before, 
wondering at their strange, unfeeling natures. 
Late in the afternoon we overtook the large 
boat, and found that preparations were being 
made to camp on a high, wooded bank, that 
promised well for the night. I got out my 
mosquito bar, meaning to arrange it early, be- 
fore the mosquitoes came; but no sooner had 
I started for the shore than the leader of my 
men gave the youngest a savage cuff across the 
ear and pointed to the bundle, which the young 
man immediately ran to take from me. I was 
well tired, and only too pleased to give it up, 
and scarcely noticed that my men were busily 
at work arranging it for me — and they did it 
well, too. When supper was ready and we sat 
around eating as best we could hardtack and 
canned corned beef, with strong coffee, one of 
my men came softly behind me and put a fine 
piece of roasted turtle on my plate, and went 
away, not even waiting for thanks. Of course, 



I shared it with my white companions, and we 
all found it a welcome addition to our limited 
supply. Then the mosquitoes drove us under 
our nets, and we tried to sleep; but a fierce 
storm, now rapidly approaching, made us anx- 
ious, and we lay awake waiting. The perspira- 
tion was trickling down my face; then for a 
moment a breath of cool air came, blowing 
through the net, followed by a crashing and 
roaring as the storm closed in around us, — 
wind, thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain. 
No tent could turn such a volume of water, 
and presently it was coming through in streams. 
All the place was drenched, and pools of water 
formed where my companions had made their 
beds; but where I lay the ground had been 
banked up, and no water collected, and for some 
unaccountable reason no water came through 
my part of the tent, though long, bitter curses, 
coming from my companions, showed how they 
were faring; yet I was cool and comfortable 
and presently fell asleep. 

Morning came bright and clear after the 
storm, and, on scrambling out from under the 
tent, I saw that my Indians had left their beds, 
and in all that storm had collected quantities of 



big leaves and arranged them on the tent over 
my bed, that I might sleep unharmed. Truly 
their ways are not as our ways, and it is of 
some use to show kindness to the Indians. I 
understood them after that, and we were the 
best of friends. Through all that journey I 
had but to express a wish, and eager hands 
were ready to serve me. Of course I shared my 
provisions, and kept the mosquitoes off them; 
but that was not much to do, and they gave 
in return of fruits, game, and all that they 
had; nor were they ever contented till I had 
taken the best of everything that they secured; 
yet never an expression of thanks in their silent 
faces, only now and then a light in their eyes 
that shone for an instant and then disappeared. 
Through all that trip up the river the water 
was at full flood, the rainy season on in force, 
and all nature at its best. Each turn of the 
river opened to new delights of tropical luxuri- 
ance, a wall of green on either hand, a torrent 
of muddy water crowding, chafing, and filling 
the air with a subdued, but ominous, murmur- 
ing; bands of dark, forbidding clouds, beating 
showers, with alternate periods of bright sun- 
shine, and everywhere the fragrance of count- 



less blossoms. Of all that was beautiful, the 
most striking were the masses of yellow jessa- 
mine flowers that in some places, where the vines 
had mounted to the tops of great trees, were 
seen in bold outline above the forest, a crown of 
glory and fragrance. It was beautiful, but 
no place for a white man. Below the dense 
luxuriance of the jungle were swamps and poi- 
soned air, and all that region was solitude, given 
over to wild animals and primeval forests. 

Camping in such places was not pleasant, and 
each night we made the best convenience we 
could on a mud-bank, and, though my Indians 
did everything possible for me, I was beginning 
to be quite miserable, when my head Indian 
said, " Don't sick ; we sleep dry to-night, and 
to-morrow reach houses ! " 

Our camp that night promised to be the most 
unpleasant of all, and, to my surprise, the In- 
dians did not arrange my bed and mosquito bar 
as usual. I soon found they had not forgotten, 
for after supper they came to carry me on their 
strong backs two miles through the swamp to a 
village of their people. My white companions 
objected, saying, " You are a pretty fellow, 
going to leave the expedition, making up to the 



Indians, and deserting your friends. Suppose 
the river rises, and everything exposed to it." 
I stopped, not that I cared much about my 
" friends," but I felt some responsibility for 
the goods we carried. The Indians were dis- 
appointed, and the youngest of my three men 
was told to stay with me. Of this there was no 
need, and I sent him, to be comfortable, with 
the others. Then night settled down about 
camp, and the sorrows of darkness began, — 
rain above, mosquitoes around, and mud below 

At last morning came, and the Indians re- 
turned from the village looking fresh and 
rested; but we, who had stopped on the mud- 
bank, were a sorry appearing lot. That day 
it did not rain so much, and the Indians worked 
with a will, so that by noontime we reached an 
open savannah, where a collection of board 
houses and a ruined sawmill were lonely evi- 
dences of an enterprise of some kind that was 
a failure. Here we were to stop for a few days, 
until arrangements had been made with other 
Indians to take us further on. Our supplies 
were soon unloaded, and then the Indians turned 
away and left us, my own men going without 



a word or a look. I hurried after them to say 
good-bye; and when I called they stopped, 
took my proffered hand with a surprised ex- 
pression, and then went on again. A moment 
or two later the boats disappeared around a 
bend in the river, and I never saw any of them 





After the Indians had gone, we settled down 
to camp again, this time at an open savannah 
surrounded by jungles. The superintendent of 
the expedition soon found himself in difficulties. 
He carried a heavy equipment, which Indians 
living near, and on whom we were depending, 
said could not be taken up the river to our 
destination; and thereupon a contest of wills 
set up, the Indians offering to take us on 
with a light equipment selected from among 
our things, and the superintendent vowing that 
all the material should go forward. I liked the 
plan proposed by the Indians, but could do noth- 
ing except advise, as my instructions were to 
follow the superintendent for a time at least. 

Our camp was not altogether harmonious, yet 
there was much of real interest in our surround- 
ings, with occasionally an exciting incident. 



Every night jaguars, panthers, and tiger-cats 
came prowling about the camp, filling the air 
at intervals with their strange cries. The tiger- 
cats were not dangerous, but the jaguars and 
panthers caused us some alarm. Of all the 
sounds in the tropical forests, the cry of the 
jaguar is the most awe-inspiring. From all 
the tangled growth of the jungle, a myriad 
of minor voices constantly fills the early hours 
of the night; then a volume of sound breaks 
in on the harmony of sound; a roar ending in 
a sudden choking, and all is still; from the 
forest no sound arises, the jaguar has cried out 
on his pathway, and all nature pauses as if in 
fear, then, reassured, the voices of the minor 
animals begin again, and presently are heard 
as before. 

One night I heard the voice of an unusually 
large jaguar coming nearer and nearer to camp ; 
then presently its deep cry was heard close by 
the houses, and all was still. It was probably 
coming in, but where.? Of course not from the 
place where it had last cried out; perhaps it 
would sneak along the river-front, or come 
crawling in through the long grass of the sa- 
vannah. While I waited listening a soft foot- 



fall was heard just by the house, and then a 
stealthy step coming through an open room 
or piazza. It is preparing to attack, was my 
first thought. My bed was most exposed — in 
fact, nothing but a door, covered with cheese- 
cloth to keep out the mosquitoes, separated me 
from the piazza. I sat up listening, and fancied 
I heard a deep breathing. I called softly to my 
companion, got up, found my pistol, and stood 
waiting. Everything was still. Then I whis- 
pered, " Let's go out and try for a shot." 

My companion whispered assent, and then 
said he would open the door, and cautioned me 
to be ready if the jaguar should spring through 
it. Then he whispered, " Ready ? " opened the 
door, and — got behind it. A breath of fresh 
air blew in my face, a shiver went down my back. 
That was all. An instant I stood waiting, and 
then stepped out. But the animal had gone as 
stealthily as it had come. Then out came my 
companion, all big words and flourish. To- 
gether we went about the camp for a time, hop- 
ing for a shot. Then the mosquitoes drove us 
in, and we went to bed again. 

As time passed, wild animals became more 
troublesome. One night we were awakened by 



a great outcrying and cursing coming from 
the cook's quarters, and on hurrying out found 
the cook with a big club in his hand, and two 
or three frightened Indians standing behind 

" Them animals beats everything I did see," 
he said, as we came running up. " But the 
cheek of the brute! It sneaked right past my 
mosquito-net and went to eating at the meat 
I had saving for breakfast. I drove at it with 
this club, and it got away, through a hole, I 
take it." 

" What was it ? " we all asked. 

" Panther — yellow and big enough for me, 
anyway," and the cook looked at us as if to 
say, " Those animals are not dangerous ; it's all 
Indian talk." We advised him not to attack 
panthers with a club at night, but if the thing 
came again to call us. Then, after talking a 
little, we hurried to our mosquito bars, not hav- 
ing noticed till then how the insects were swarm- 
ing around us. 

Next morning the cook said to me : " Mr. 
Frank, I thought it was a lot of rats or I 
wouldn't have done it, but I ain't telling that to 
them men," pointing to my companions. 



The next night, shortly after we went to bed, 
we heard the cook caUing again, and hurried 
from our quarters to his aid. As we came run- 
ning up, his voice greeted us from under the 
mosquito bar, saying, " That panther has come 
again, bigger this time, and it's gone in the 

We went cautiously and stood looking in at 
the open door, where there was quite a large 
room, now perfectly dark. We stood there a 
moment; then I told the engineer to hold a 
torch over my head, and I would go in the room 
and try for a shot at the panther. There was 
but one door, and I felt sure of a shot this 

The engineer called me a blank, blank fool, 
a kid, a tenderfoot, and said he would hold no 
light at that door. 

" Well," I said, " I'm not going to miss this 
chance. I'll go in without a light." 

" Yes," sneered the engineer, " tenderfoot, 
fool, kid. Don't you know better than that, 
going in a room with a panther.? You never 
saw one before, that's plain. Any mother's baby 
would know better." 



I stepped up to the door, saying, " Are you 
going to hold that light ? " 

" Here," he said, " give me a torch. Now 
go in and let the panther maul you; it will 
serve you right." 

He held the torch at the door, and I stepped 
cautiously into the dimly lighted room. At 
first I saw nothing, and stood for what seemed 
a long time, the engineer telling me to come 
back while I could, and that the brute was only 
hiding. I didn't like it very much, and had just 
determined to back cautiously out when I heard 
something stir, and then over in the corner above 
a pile of flour-bags two burning eyes appeared, 
glared at me, and were motionless. There was 
the game. My chance had come. I raised my 
big .44-calibre revolver, took careful aim, shot, 
and then repeated, aiming at the same place. 
Something fell heavily to the ground, the en- 
gineer gave a sort of gasp, and exclaimed, 
"The tenderfoot kid, he did kill it." Then 
everybody crowded into the room. 

We searched with great care, but could not 
find the animal. The general opinion was that 
it had been badly wounded, and had crawled in 
behind some of the stores, and we could get it 



in the morning. I moved a barrel and caught 
sight of a tawny fur, and made a grab for it, 
but one of the men caught my arm and held me 
back, saying, " Those animals have more lives 
than a cat; better be careful." However, the 
beast lay perfectly still, and I wanted to see 
it that night, and I put my hand down, feeling 
it carefully for a moment, then took hold with 
both hands, braced myself, laid my strength on 
for a big lift, and went over backward as if 
I had lost my hold. But I hadn't. My grip 
was good enough, and so had been my aim; 
but in my hands I held an unfortunate opossum, 
and not a very large one at that, except its eyes, 
and they were too big for its face. 

I didn't mean to hurt that opossum. It 
wasn't fit to eat. I had nothing against it. 
Why couldn't it have gotten out of a hole in 
the roof before I shot, and have made big noise 
getting away.? Then I would have had a thrill- 
ing tale to tell of adventure with a panther. 
As it is, I only killed a night-prowling opossum, 
of the kind that smell badly when one gets too 
near them. 





As the days passed one after another, I made 
friends with the neighbouring Indians, and 
found them a kindly disposed people, but they 
were positive that the river was too rough for 
our heavy equipment and clumsy boats, so the 
deadlock continued. In camp, when troubles 
come, life is a serious problem. The superin- 
tendent went to look for men, insisting that 
his boats and heavy equipment should go up 
the river, wildly declaiming as he left us that 
the world contained no torrent strong enough 
to turn him aside or check his plans. 

We were alone now; for days the neigh- 
bouring Indians had refused to come near our 
camp. The engineer was dangerously sick, and 
the cook objecting violently to the burden of 
work. That morning he said to me : " Mr. 



Frank, it ain't no ways reasonable, me to be 
cooking and cleaning, cutting wood and fixing 
stores; and with him sick and kicking mor'n 
enough, there won't be no getting along with 
it." Then he sent the axe crashing into the log 
he was chopping, and, shouldering a quantity 
of wood, marched away to the kitchen. Just 
then I heard the engineer asking for water, 
which I hurried to give him. Something had 
to be done. Salt provisions and heavy work 
promised to make us all sick. It was still early 
in the morning. I knew that seven to nine miles 
across the jungles and savannahs there was an 
Indian village, and I resolved that I would go 
there and find help. I took my rifle, gave some 
directions to the cook, and hinted to a little 
Spaniard who hung around camp that if he 
would mind his own business it would be appre- 
ciated. Then I hurried out on the trail to look 
for help. I had never been alone in the tropical 
jungles, and was all excitement with a sort of 
fear because of the unknown in the wilderness 
about me. Gradually this feeling wore off, and, 
as the day passed, my only anxiety was that 
night might come before I could find the Indian 
village. I knew that it was a long way before 



I started, but now as the narrow trail led me 
on and on, sometimes through a dense jungle, 
again in and out and among the great trees of 
an open forest, or through tangled bushes 
along the edge of the savannah, it seemed as 
though I would never reach the end, and now 
anxiety and fears of a lonely night in the jun- 
gles were my constant companions. I was alone, 
and, perhaps, like a lost man, becoming panic- 
stricken ; yet I hurried on, and late in the after- 
noon saw a group of trees and little houses some 
distance ahead across the savannah. Urging 
my steps, I presently reached the village, tired 
and hungry, only to find the place deserted. 
Sometimes the Indians go away for days, and I 
looked anxiously for signs of life. Then from 
one of the houses I heard voices, and on hurry- 
ing to the door and looking in, I saw one of 
the most beautiful examples of Indian life that 
I have ever known. The house was full of chil- 
dren, little and big, all perfectly contented, talk- 
ing together and laughing pleasantly. The 
boys were mending bows and arrows, or swing- 
ing in hammocks. The girls were busy at min- 
iature housekeeping, and the very little ones 
were either asleep or staring contentedly at the 


others. Outside it was all burning sun, but in 
the hut there was subdued light and cool air, 
like that of the deep woodlands. 

For an instant, I watched the half-naked chil- 
dren, as healthy and graceful as little wild ani- 
mals; then they saw me. The bigger boys 
caught up their knives, their bows, and their 
arrows, and stood defiantly in front of the girls ; 
but just for an instant; the next moment some 
of the boys who had been at our camp recog- 
nized me, weapons were thrown aside, and I was 
receiving a welcome such as can be had only in 
the boisterous good- will of healthy children. 
Then some got a hammock for me, others took 
off my boots, while still others ran to bring 
fruits and cool water. In a very short time 
I was most comfortable, and had quite for- 
gotten the burning sun and long tramp. Pres- 
ently some of the children came, bringing an 
old woman — the grandmother of all the vil- 
lage. She could speak a little English, and on 
learning that I wanted some men, said that they 
had all gone hunting, but would come back at 
night. Then she had the children gather up 
my things, and we all went to her house, where 



she and some younger women immediately be- 
gan preparing a good dinner for me. 

When all was ready I was brought a large 
wooden plate, and the food was placed around 
my hammock in gourds, each presided over by 
a bright little Indian child, armed with a forked 
stick, with which to pick up the food and trans- 
fer it to my plate as I might want it. I had 
boiled chicken, rice, yams, plantain, smoked wild 
pork, yucca, and various fruits. The children 
were eager in their service, and it was a beau- 
tiful dinner. Before me was the intense sun- 
light and deep blue sky over the open savannah, 
around me a pleasant shade and soft breeze 
blowing in at the wide-open door, and the 
children, pretty little creatures, laughed and 
chatted together, each eagerly pressing me to 
eat of what he or she had to offer; while the 
old Indian woman sat looking on, all smiles at 
my enjoyment of her things, her satisfaction 
increasing every moment, and I must confess 
that I did eat a lot, but then there was plenty. 
After dinner I amused the people showing them 
my watch, compass, and the few other things 
I had with me, and presently evening came, 
and with it the people of the village : men laden 



with game from their hunting, and women bear- 
ing fruits and vegetables from their gardens 
and cultivations among the woodlands. 

So soon as my Indian friends learned that the 
superintendent had left camp, they were all 
quite ready to go with me, but I wanted only 
two men, and, having picked out a pair of 
sturdy -looking fellows, we all went to the chief's 
house to sit around and have a talk. The chil- 
dren came, too, but now they were quite subdued 
in the presence of the men, and sat meekly 
looking on. From time to time women came 
in to look at the white stranger; each carried 
a torch, and generally an armful of gourd 
dishes, all very much alike, which probably they 
had been washing; these were all laid on the 
ground in front of the house, while the Indian 
women came in to satisfy their curiosity. Pres- 
ently one came along with her torch and a 
good supply of gourds in her arms. She placed 
them on the ground with care, laying the torch 
beside them, and came stalking in with a savage 
look at the boys. Evidently she was no fa- 
vourite with them; there was a whispered con- 
sultation, then the little scamps sneaked cau- 
tiously out of the door, went to her torch, and 



carefully made two torches of it, putting each 
in a separate place a little distance apart; then 
they divided her gourds, placing some by each 
torch ; after that they hid behind some 'bushes 
and waited. Presently the woman, having sat- 
isfied her curiosity, went out, and walked up 
to the nearest pile of gourds with a puzzled 
expression; she had brought eight, now there 
were only three, with a small torch, and hers 
had been a big one ; then she went to the others, 
then she came back to the first, and went angrily 
toward the others again. Evidently she wished 
to be careful about touching what might not 
belong to her, and now stood looking about her 
with an angry, puzzled expression. Then a 
stifled laugh came from behind the bushes; in- 
stantly she seemed to grasp the situation; with 
one sweep of her long arm she gathered up her 
gourds and made a dash for the boys, but they 
were too quick for her, and, scattering in all 
directions, the half -naked little scamps went 
dancing about among the houses, screaming 
with laughter and delight at her efforts to catch 
them. For some time she kept up an angry, 
determined chase, but finally gave in and went 
to her hut, with loud expressions of opinion that 


sounded like very bad words. The men laughed 
heartily, and, encouraged by this, the boys came 
with doubtful steps into the house, but the chief 
made a sign to the young men, and the boys 
made a wild dash for the door. It was no use 
this time; they were soon caught, their ears 
were soundly boxed, and for a time lamentations 
filled the village. 

I talked with the Indians late into the night, 
and then slept on a mahogany board under a 
good mosquito-net, and would have been com- 
fortable if only I could have found one soft 
spot on that board. In the morning I and my 
two men tramped back to our camp, where the 
Indians soon made us comfortable. 





Foe, a time the days went on pleasantly 
enough, but after awhile we began to feel some- 
what anxious about the superintendent, and as 
the days lengthened into weeks we talked of 
sending out a searching party. Then word 
came to us that yellow fever was raging all 
along the coast, and that the superintendent 
was dead. At this we decided that our plans 
must be changed, yet to go back to the coast 
seemed unwise; and finally it was agreed that 
I should go on alone to the interior, and that 
our two remaining companions should stay with 
our supplies till men and proper equipment 
could be sent down the river to take them all 
to our destination. 

Arrangements were easily made with the 
Indians, for they were all eager to serve me. 



and a few days later I left camp in company 
with a number of them, who had come to take 
me to their village, the first stopping-point on 
my journey to the interior. A moment of mu- 
tual parting, instructions, a hurried good-bye, 
and I turned away with my Indian friends. 
As we went, they talked continually of the rich 
beauty and resources of their country ; for 
what reason I did not know till I arrived at 
their village, where I found a number of lead- 
ing men, who, after extending salutations of 
welcome, made me a rather startling proposi- 
tion. It appeared that four villages in that 
country were constantly at strife, each with 
the other, and they wanted a new chief to pre- 
side over all four, a dignity to which I had 
been duly appointed, and they proposed to 
build me a new village, or, rather, a collection 
of huts, where it was proposed that I should 
marry and settle down, but the marrying was 
serious because each of the four villages ex- 
pected to be represented in my establishment. 
First I was to marry a daughter of each of 
the village chiefs, — that made four as princi- 
pal wives; then I was to marry a relative of 
each chief's principal wife, one from each vil- 



lage, — that made eight ; then, after marrying 
eight Indian girls selected for me by others, 
I was to select a wife from each village as I 
might fancy; a total of twelve wives offered 
all at once. 

The Indians could not understand why I did 
not accept at once an offer so liberal in all its 
conditions, and I was anxious enough to find 
some excuse for declining without giving them 
offence. After we had consulted together for 
a long time, I told them that, according to the 
laws of my fathers, which were of course bind- 
ing on me, a man could have but one wife, and 
that I could by no means become the common 
bond through which the contending villages 
might be united. Yet I was fearful of offend- 
ing their women, for they were proud of their 

There was a beautiful little Indian baby girl 
about four years old in that village, named 
Dropm, and just at that time she happened 
to be sitting on my knee looking at me intently 
with grave, wondering eyes. So I told the peo- 
ple that I could not be contented with any one 
but Dropin, and as she was so young, I would 
have to wait for her to grow. The people were 



disappointed, but accepted the excuse, and 
little Dropm became a personage of importance. 
Then I gave her a lot of things, such as I had, 
a bright silk handkerchief, metal buttons, 
safety-pins, etc. ; and her delight was beyond 
her ability to express. Then I nominated a 
boy to take care of her, which was equivalent 
to providing a husband, gave the chief some 
money to buy her a cow, and I had done suffi- 
cient. No doubt I have long since been for- 
gotten, though, for myself, I often think of 
the pretty Indian baby and wonder what has 
become of her. 

In the same village I met a boy who some 
days before had come to camp, asking that I 
would give him some medicine for ugly sores 
and a skin disease on his legs and feet; and I 
was pleased to find that he was now quite well. 
He could not speak my language, but as a 
means of expressing his thanks he came to show 
me the places where the sores had been, and 
then stood by my side till late in the evening. 

That night it rained, and in the morning 
the river was up and a mighty flood was on; 
all around, where yesterday there had been 
green savannahs, was one expanse of water, 



and the higher ground on which the village 
stood was an island, with the water still rising 
around it. 

Even the Indians looked on in amazement. 
Then a rumour started that my friends at camp 
were being washed away, and that most prob- 
ably all would be killed. 

I called my men, and told them to go back 
to camp, which was within easy reach now by 
canoe across the flooded savannah, and help 
could be sent quickly; but the men said they 
would not go; it was too dangerous. In vain 
I scolded and entreated, they would not go. 
Their engagement to go up the river they ac- 
knowledged, and were prepared to obey any or- 
ders for that trip I might give at any time. 
Then I determined to gain my point with strong 
words. So calling them to the canoes, I said, 
" Get your things, we will start now." 

The chief translated, and dismay filled their 
faces. I took my place in the canoe and re- 
peated my order. " But we will certainly be 
killed," said the chief, " no canoe can live in the 
rapids just above here with such a flood." 

"Good," I said, "we wiU all be killed; so 
will my friends unless you go to their aid, and 



why should I not die with them? Now take 
your choice, go down the river to help my 
friends or start up the river with me at once, 
and we will all go to ' Hell ' together." 

They looked at me, and I looked at them. 
Then the chief said, " Me go," and after that 
they all assented. 

It was easy for them to push a light canoe 
across the flooded meadows, and that evening 
they all came back, the chief bringing a letter 
from my friends assuring me that they were 
all well at camp. 

Later, I heard that the chief had expressed 
a rather strong opinion in regard to my char- 
acter, saying to my friends at camp, " Yes, he 
a good man, he a much good man, but, oh, God. 
he a devil." 





The next day word came to me that the 
superintendent had returned, and was most 
anxious that I should come back to camp, which 
I naturally prepared to do at once. 

The river was still at flood, though the 
savannah was now free from water. Two fine 
young Indians were directed to take me, a 
canoe was prepared, and we were shortly on our 
way, the swift current carrying us down the 
river with almost appalling force. It was a 
long way, for the river made numerous windings, 
and it was late in the afternoon when we ar- 
rived in camp. I was surprised to find that a 
number of my Indian friends had also come to 
our camp, having made their way, through all 
the dangerous wind, across the lately flooded 
savannah. As I went toward the house, one of 



them whispered, " If he fights, come out to us." 
Then they all sat about indifferently, and one 
would have thought they had no concern in me 
at all. 

My meeting with the superintendent was 
strained. He had failed utterly in his search 
for men, and there was little to be said, at least 
I had nothing to say, and simply waited to hear 

We were all sitting in front of one of the 
huts, I watching the sun set, and wondering at 
the volume of water in the flooded river just 
before us; then from the other side I saw a 
great animal come out of the woods, where for 
an instant it stood in bold outline against the 
sunset. " What is that.? " I cried, " a tapir or 
what.? " An Indian sitting near said, " Tiger," 
and in an instant there was commotion in camp. 
Supremely quiet, the great jaguar stood look- 
ing across the water; then with a slow move- 
ment, his eyes fixed on us, he walked to the 
river and began to swim as if intent on reaching 
where we stood and beginning the attack. He 
must have been well hungry to attack so many 
people, but a hungry jaguar will do anything. 
We rushed for our rifles, and before the jaguar 


Cl!^'" 7*" ' 



could cross the broad river all were prepared 
for him. " You saw it, your shot," whispered 
one of the Indians, as we stood waiting. Then 
I stepped ahead of the others, feeling sure of 
my game this time. I wanted the skin, and had 
just determined to let the beast reach shallow 
water on our side of the river, feeling sure I 
could kill before it sprang on us, when one of 
my companions fired over my shoulder, taking 
my shot, and killing the game while it was yet 
in deep water. For a moment or two it strug- 
gled, making a magnificent effort to reach 
shore, then sinking below, the surface, disap- 
peared for ever, carried down by the swift 

This incident put us in a bad humour, and 
the superintendent began demanding money, 
asking that I should make heavy drafts on New 
York, though how he expected to obtain money 
on them in the wild jungles was past my com- 
prehension. I agreed, however, that I would 
give him the drafts, provided he would take a 
light cargo and go on with the Indians to our 
destination. He refused, and after consulting 
my Indian friends, I decided that no more 
money could be given him unless he agreed to 



go on, make such progress as he could, and give 
up his schemes in regard to navigating the 
Patuca River, in which I had no interest what- 
ever. Then there was a scene, threats and wild 
language; the superintendent had been drink- 
ing, and was little better than a madman. 
Presently his thoughts centred on an idea that 
he would go back to the settlements, and up 
the road to the interior, and there revoke certain 
transfers of property before I could have them 
registered. This registry was one of the most 
important matters that had been entrusted to 
me. The question was rather serious, and I 
consulted with others before answering him; 
while he, all complacent, thought I was cornered. 
I was assured that if he went back to the coast 
he could not get through the dead-line, because 
yellow fever was raging in the settlements. The 
dead-line is a rather peculiar though effective 
quarantine; a line is drawn across the road 
from an infected place, and a notice is posted 
up ; a guard stationed to protect the line, and 
whoever attempts to cross from the infected side 
is immediately shot. I hardly believed this 
statement, but I was convinced that there was 
some impediment to travel, and that to reach 



the interior from the infected coast would be 
difficult, and probably slow work. Fortunately 
we were above the dead-line, and I determined 
to make my way across the wilderness to the 
capital ; if my companion came with me I could 
claim the right of registry, and if he went by 
way of the coast I could probably beat him in. 

Once more I tried to persuade him that our 
best interests were to go on, but words were use- 
less, and a race for the mines was in order. 

I arranged as best I could. Of the money 
we had, I took one hundred and fifty dollars in 
silver, and gave the balance, several hundred 
dollars, to the engineer of our expedition, tell- 
ing him to remain at camp till I could send 
help from the capital. Then, with the few 
things packed which were to be my outfit, I 
waited anxiously for an opportunity to begin 
my journey. 





In a few days a crew of Sumu Indians came 
up the river and stopped for the night at our 
camp. They agreed to take me with them as 
far as they were going, but did not think I 
could succeed in getting over the mountains. 
They said that there were plenty of men at their 
village, a place called Gualpatante, and as I 
felt sure I could arrange with some of them, 
I determined to push on. 

I got my things together and next morning 
we started. Their canoe was unusually large, 
made from a single mahogany log, and capable 
of carrying six or seven tons. 

Eight men made up the crew, rough-looking 
fellows, such as I had never seen before, and 
I wondered what was to be my fate with them. 
The captain of the crew was old and bent, look- 



ing almost like a hunchback; his arms reached 
down below his knees ; his neck was long, skinny, 
and protruding; he had only one tooth, which 
had grown up to the length of a boar's tusk; 
one eye was knocked out, his nose and chin 
almost met, his long, unkempt hair hung about 
his naked shoulders ; and to make his appear- 
ance more frightful, one-half his face was 
painted black, which brought his protruding 
cheek-bones into peculiar prominence. 

I looked at him in astonishment, not unmixed 
with fear, and he was in truth a strange, for- 
bidding-looking object. The Indians quickly 
put my things in the canoe, the old Indian 
motioned me to a seat, and my journey had be- 
gun, my companion sneeringly remarking that 
he would wait for me at the capital, where I 
would find the property made away with, and 
all because of my headstrong folly in refusing 
his orders. The time for words was past; I 
invited him to go with me, but he would not; 
and then the men pushed out in the stream, and 
began a vigorous paddling which soon took 
us around a bend in the river, and I was alone 
with these strange, half -naked Indians, per- 



plexed and doubting the wisdom of the course 
I was pursuing. 

I was not long in finding out that I was in 
good company, and the strange old Indian was 
as careful of me as if I had been his child. I 
soon forgot my fears in the novelty of my sur- 
roundings, and then anxiety gave place to 
thorough enjoyment. 

As we ascended the river the scene gradually 
changed, and presently we were among the first 
undulations of the mountains, and after two 
days, had reached the lower foot-hills, and were 
surrounded by all that one could dream of in 
a tropical paradise. At night we camped on the 
sand-bars, and in a few minutes the Indians 
would have game and fish in abundance. Then 
we would eat, and it seemed as if I could not 
get enough, and fortunately there was no end 
to the supply. 

Two days more, and we reached the Indian 
village, a place called Gualpatante; the men 
took my things to one of the larger houses, and 
the people crowded around to see me. 

I immediately began negotiations for men 
to take me on my way, and was meeting with 
some success when all my hopes were ruined at 



a sign from the old Indian, whose name, I 
learned, was Tusa. He was a most remarkable 
person; the oldest people in the village said 
that when they were children he was just as I 
found him — old, temperate in all things, and 
powerfully strong. While we were coming up 
the river the men had on several occasions been 
unable to make headway against the current, 
which at times was very swift. Old Tusa 
carried a great paddle, bigger than himself, and 
at these times he would give one long sweep with 
it deep in the water, and the great canoe would 
tremble at the force; then another sweep of his 
broad paddle, and the canoe would move ahead 
slowly; then the men would get it in control 
again, and we would creep steadily on to 
quieter water; the old Indian making himself 
comfortable in a lazy attitude in the stem of the 
canoe. And this was the man who had me in 
his power, and I began to be anxious again, and 
wonder why he was unwilling that I should go 

I was well treated, and if I could have spoken 
to them fluently or understood what they said, 
I felt sure that all would soon be arranged ; but 
my few words of the Indian language seemed to 



be lost on old Tusa, who spoke only a very little 
English and Spanish. Conversation was not 
brilliant. Each morning old Tusa would come 
down to see me and say : " Where going to- 

" Up the river," I would reply. 

" No, can't go." 

" But I want to — I must," I would protest. 

" No, can't go." 

" But I will," I would say, angrily, at times. 

" No, can't go. Where going to-day ? Stone 
tings; flower tings; butterfly tings; hunt?" 

I was interested in collecting specimens, and 
would generally choose one or another excur- 
sion proposed. The old man would give a 
satisfied grunt, and then, after a brief direction 
to one of the young men, who apparently never 
thought of disobeying him, I would be taken 
out in the woods; and game, insects, botanical 
or geological specimens would be found to my 
fullest satisfaction. 

But as the days accumulated, I gave up going 
out, and all my thoughts were concentrated on 
getting away from that old Indian. He would 
have taken me back to the camp down the river 
at any time, but he would not take me on, nor 



would he let me go, and I began to fear that he 
had an understanding with the superintendent 
to detain me. Twice I nearly succeeded, but 
he stopped me each time, and I grew more and 
more anxious. 

What he meant to do I could not tell, and I 
was in despair, even expecting that later he in- 
tended to have me killed. 

The Indians were drinking a good part of 
the time, and how I learned to hate those drunken 
feasts. Tusa never went to them, but the other 
men would soon become hopelessly intoxicated, 
and then would promise to take me anywhere, 
and that would be the end of it, only promises. 
They drank fermented sugar-cane juice which 
was prepared by women who sat around a big 
trough chewing cane and spitting the juice till 
they had filled the trough; then it was allowed 
to ferment. When properly fermented, the 
boys would gather with their reed pipes and 
the men would drink to the accompaniment of 
their droning music, just the same thing over 
and over again, all in disorder, yet not unpleas- 
ing in its effect ; and finally the men would fall 
into a helpless drunken stupor, though at times 
angry quarrels would take place, and the In- 



dians, wild with drink, would threaten all sorts 
of violence. At such times old Tusa would 
hurry over to my house, and forbid my going 
out. Usually he stayed with me until the row 
was over, and I could not understand why he 
was so careful of me, and yet kept me so closely 

A few days later I learned why this was. I 
had lost three weeks when a large canoe came 
up the river filled with Indians, but among them 
there was a white man, a fine fellow who was 
building up a trade in rubber with the Indians. 
I had been living in his house, and old Tusa 
proposed to deliver me safe and sound to my 
host. This he did with but little ceremony, and 
as he went out of the door he said to me : " Now 
can go," and walked off entirely satisfied. 

My new friend said that the old Indian had 
done me a great service, as I would certainly 
have been killed if I had gone on without being 
properly prepared; and as it was he did not 
think it would be possible for me to get through, 
and advised me most seriously to go back, and 
give up the idea; it was no trip for a white 
man not accustomed to the most trying expo- 
sures. Then, if one did not die from the ex- 



posure, there were the wild animals ; and if not 
these, then the Indians, almost as dangerous, 
and altogether he thought it would be impossi- 
ble for me. But when I explained the situation, 
he said he thought it was taking big risks, but 
he would do the best he could for me. 

He told me I might take my choice of evils. 
He could give me Mosquito men who would take 
me up the rapids safely, but might lose their 
way in the woods, which would mean death; 
then he could give me men from his village, but 
though they knew the trail well, they would 
perhaps have an accident in the rapids ; which, 
if it did not kill me, would certainly mean the 
loss of all my things ; or he could give me the 
wild men, who would be coming down with their 
rubber the next day. These were perfect river 
hands and sure woodmen; but they were mur- 
derous, and not to be depended on, yet if I was 
careful with them they would probably take me 
through safely. I determined to cast in my lot 
with the wild men, and then my friend gave me 
careful directions how to treat them. Their 
last murder had been to secure forty dollars sil- 
ver, quite a fortune to them. I now had only 
one hundred dollars silver, little enough with the 



journey ahead of me. This I was not to show 
on any account. Then I was not to give them 
directions, but simply allow them to take me. 
I would fall in with a tribe called the Piyu 
Indians, some of whom were very dangerous, 
and, though cowardly, would sneak up to one 
at night, cut one's throat, and run; and on no 
account was I to sleep in their houses till I got 
to the interior valleys; where they were per- 
fectly reliable, and I would be safe. 

Then I gave my friend the money to pay the 
men, and he proposed to tell them he was ad- 
vancing it to me, and that I had none. He said 
he would engage three men and two women as 
my guides and pack-bearers, because the men 
rarely murdered a person when the women were 





The following day preparations were made, 
and, true to their appointment, the men came 
down that morning, a whole lot of them, with 
several canoe-loads of rubber. I was glad to 
see that a number of women were with them, and 
was overjoyed to learn that they proposed to 
go back to their mountains the next morning. 
They looked as wild as monkeys, but their stout 
muscles spoke well for their ability as wood and 
river men. 

A bargain was quickly made ; my friend gave 
them their money, and, after making some 
presents, in which old Tusa was especially re- 
membered, I set out again with a fair prospect 
of reaching the interior settlements. The first 
day the men did excellent work, and the next 
reached the Wampoo River, and continued on 



the way to their village at a junction with it 
and the Po River. It had been a long, hard 
day's work for them, and just as I was con- 
gratulating myself on our quick time they an- 
nounced that they must rest one day before 
starting out again. 

There was no help for it, and so I determined 
to amuse myself as best I could, and when night 
came I began to think the time had not been a 
loss, for these were a strange people, and it 
is seldom the lot of a traveller to faU in with 

That night the etiquette of the woods re- 
quired that I should hand my firearms to my 
host, to prove my confidence in him; usually 
they are handed back at once, but this Indian 
kept them, and I began to wish I had not been so 
particular, and I missed my good friend, as I 
call my pistol, sorely that night, though I didn't 
have any occasion to use it; yet there is some- 
thing companionable about a pistol, and I would 
have slept more soundly if it had been by my 

The following day the men continued resting, 
but in the afternoon I was delighted to see them 
making preparations to start the next mornings 



A little later I threw the town into a state of 
excitement because of some paper pinwheels 
that I made to amuse the children. The men 
wanted them at once, and I used up numerous 
pins and nearly all my paper before they were 
satisfied. When all were supplied, it was an 
amusing sight as these fully-grown men pranced 
and ran about among the houses, shouting and 
kicking up their heels like a lot of children ; the 
women following around after them equally 
deHghted, and full of excitement. The fun 
lasted for about an hour, and then the pin- 
wheels were worn out, and the village settled 
down again. 

The next morning the chief said they were 
ready to go on, but to my surprise and alarm 
I found that five men were to be my companions, 
and that the women were not going at all. 
There was no help for it, now; to return was 
impossible, and if they intended to murder me 
I could not escape them by going back; so I 
made the best of the situation and we started. 
The men made good progress, and about noon 
we reached a little Indian village called Po. 
Here my chief and the chief of Po sat down tp 
have a talk together. 



After a time the chief of Po said to my chief, 
" Well, are you going to kill this one ? " To 
which my chief replied, " I don't know, yet ; I 
must get him up in the woods first and see if he 
has any money, and besides, the trader takes care 
of him and perhaps he will only die in the 
woods." I could understand some words of their 
language, but they fell to talking about other 
things, which I could not understand, and I went 
to sit alone and consider my prospects. It did 
not seem very encouraging, but the road led on, 
not back. 

We soon were under way again, following the 
river as it wound ever on up, and still up among 
the mountains. 

Sometimes the rapids were really dangerous, 
and it was wonderful to see the way in which 
those Indians managed the shallow dugout or 
pit pan, as they called it. One stood in front 
with a long pole to keep it off the rocks, two 
paddled, one bailed the water out, and one stood 
behind, steering with a long pole. When we 
came to a rapid they would shout to me to sit 
still, which was all I could do; I was so fright- 
ened I scarcely dared to breath, while those men, 
shouting with excitement, made their way along 



the sides of rapids which to me seemed impass- 

At times we would come to long stretches of 
quiet water, and then to other rapids, and so 
on up and up, the men shooting iguanas and 
catching turtles and fish as we went. 

Iguana is said to be very fine eating, but after 
a time I could not bear the sight of it, though 
it seemed good at first. There was plenty of 
turtle at all times, however, and so I got along 
very well. 

It was strange to see the Indians catch turtles 
and fish. A turtle would slip off a log into the 
water, and at the same time an Indian would 
dive lightly from the boat, and it was rarely 
indeed that they missed them. A certain In- 
dian named Wee Wee was particularly expert, 
and if he saw a frightened fish hide itself as 
we passed on up the river, he would slip quietly 
over the side of the canoe, and nearly always 
succeeded in catching it. 

At one part of the journey we found our- 
selves in a deep ravine, which was so high up 
among the mountains that we could look back 
out of it over a great stretch of country and 
lower mountains, and as we sat in the cool shade 



of the canon, where the water was still and deep, 
and where the rocks were all covered with or- 
chids, ferns, and mosses, it seemed, looking out 
over the distant country, as if something was 
about to overwhelm us or that we were soon to 
be swept over a cataract, it was all so strange 
and unearthly. 

One morning, after sleeping by the river 
bank, I noticed two little red spots on my arm, 
considerably above the elbow ; at times they were 
very painful, and after a day or two became 
almost unbearable and had grown quite large. 
I tried to press them out, thinking they were 
boils, and that the sun made them hurt so se- 
verely. I was sure something was in there, so, 
getting a bunch of flesh up between my fingers, 
I pressed with considerable force, and to my 
astonishment a white, threadlike worm began 
to appear, and as I pressed harder a large grub 
popped out and fell in my hand. It looked like 
a bottle with a long neck tapering to a thread, 
and had black hair at the folds of its skin. 
Then I took another out of the smaller sore, and 
thought I would have no more trouble with 
them; but in this I was mistaken, and my arm 
began to swell rapidly, aching miserably, while 



green matter collected in the openings left where 
the grubs had been. After a time these condi- 
tions became so alarming that I showed my arm 
to the chief, who said it was very bad, that it 
was the mosquito grub, and that I should have 
told him sooner. Then he went to the woods 
and brought back a root, which he masticated 
with some chewing tobacco, and placed the mass 
in the sores, after which they healed with what 
I thought unusual rapidity. I am told that I 
made a lucky escape, as the sores following the 
expulsion of these grubs are at times danger- 
ous ; rarely so, however, if taken out while they 
are yet small, and only those who are ignorant 
in respect to them suffer any damage. 

It is said that a long black mosquito lays the 
eggs that produce these grubs; how, nobody 
has any idea, and at times they are very annoy- 
ing. After that experience I was careful to 
sleep under my mosquito bar, and have been 
careful to do so ever since while travelling in 
the tropics. 

After we had gone a short distance further, 
the Indians stopped, saying that we had reached 
the limit of canoe navigation, and must now 
make our way across the mountains on foot. 



Our things were soon landed, the canoe drawn 
well up on the bank, and then the men said they 
would have to rest for three days. Here was 
more trouble. We had been unusually slow as- 
cending the river, we had rested a day and a 
half at Wampoo, and I had lost three weeks at 
Gualpatante. With such progress as this it 
seemed only reasonable to expect that my rival 
would gain the victory and destroy the com- 
pany's titles before I could succeed in having 
them registered. 

I was anxious enough, and tried every pos- 
sible means to start the men on, but it was of 
no use, and we lost the balance of that day, and 
there seemed no prospect of moving for all the 

Next morning I tried again, and offered to 
throw away a lot of my things and make their 
packs lighter, but it was of no avail. Then I 
thought of a bottle of brandy in one of my 
cases, and offered it to them for the evening 
if they would go on. 

This suited their fancy. They will do any- 
thing for whiskey or brandy, and arrangements 
were soon made. I threw away a lot of my 
things, and gave a woollen shirt to one of the 



young men, who was really sick from cold and 
exposure, and I threw away all the things in 
his pack, so he had nothing to carry. Among 
my clothes was a canvas hunting-coat, having 
the usual brass buttons with animals' heads. 
The chief took a great fancy to it, saying, 
" Give me this," a number of times. I was not 
well pleased, and told him I would see him fur- 
ther first, yet he took such a fancy to it, going 
back time after time to look at it, all the while 
regarding me with glittering, envious eyes, that 
I thought if this man would murder to secure 
forty dollars from a person who trusted him 
as guide, he would probably do as much to 
secure the coat that he fancied so avariciously, 
consequently I gave it to him, and then all were 

It was a pity to throw away so many useful 
things, but regrets were unavailing, so shoulder- 
ing my rifle, which I had been told never to 
trust out of my hands, we started, the chief 
leading the way. 

At first the trail was easy, and I began to 
think that reports were exaggerated, but pres- 
ently we came to a stream that must be forded. 
I started to undress, as it was deep, but the 



chief said, " No use ; can't stop ; must walk 
river," which was Kterally true. We had to 
scramble along its rough banks, in and out of 
the water, make thirty-three deep fordings and 
climb up and down all sorts of places. 

The novelty kept up my enthusiasm, but 
about the middle of the day I became very tired, 
and once slipped over quite a precipice, and 
would have fallen headlong if one of the young 
men, who was just below me, had not caught me 
in his arms. I fell right into them, and though 
I am pretty heavy, his strength did not yield 
to my weight. It seemed as if I had fallen 
against a well-braced pair of posts, and then 
the way he lifted me to a safe place, as though 
I weighed nothing, made me regard him with 
unusual respect, and there was something about 
the care with which he handled me that made 
me feel much more secure with these wild men. 

After struggling on for a short distance, we 
fell in with a number of wild hogs. I was too 
tired to shoot, but, telling the chief how to use 
the sights, I handed him my rifle, knowing that 
in the excitement of the moment he would think 
only of the wild hogs. He took careful aim, 
and to my surprise his first shot with a rifle was 



a success, and we had a large wild hog that 
would give plenty of meat. We now pushed 
on higher up among the mountains, and finally 
made camp in a grove of giant mahogany- 

The men built a rancho of broad vijao leaves, 
and then asked about the whiskey I had prom- 
ised them. I told them we would have it as soon 
as I put on some dry clothes. 

Then they went to work preparing the pig, 
and presently I called them to me, holding up 
a bottle covered with a neat straw case, so that 
they could all see it. They came at once crowd- 
ing around me, and I stood there holding the 
bottle, still covered with its straw case. It was 
a scene that I will never forget, and even now 
I can fancy, almost, that their wild, excited 
faces are pressing close about me. It was a 
repulsive sight, with the cords of their necks 
rigid, their bloody hands clutching their great 
knives, their eyes protruding, indicating the 
intense strain of beastly anticipation; the In- 
dians stood with their whole beings rooted hun- 
grily on that covered bottle. 

I held it up for an instant, and then with a 



flourish drew off the straw case — and found 
that the bottle was empty. 

The dark rage of disappointment that came 
over those faces sent my frightened wits to the 
winds. For an instant my life was not worth 
a cry to save it, nor could I realize what was 
happening. In his rage, the chief standing 
next me raised his knife, but, as he was bringing 
it down on me, the instinct of self-preservation 
caused me to start back, and to accuse the man at 
my side of stealing the whiskey ; then the knife 
that was intended for me was turned and thrust 
at him, and but for my interposing my hand 
he would have been killed. He had carried the 
pack containing the whiskey, and now the mad- 
dened Indians turned on him, giving no heed 
to his protests; he had carried the whiskey, 
and it was gone. His face changed with fright 
to a brownish gray, and then, my wits coming 
back, I threw myself between him and the 
threatening knives. Now I saw what had hap- 
pened; the top of the bottle was broken, and 
I led the men over to my pack ; they followed, 
probably expecting a fresh bottle. Then I 
showed them my clothes soaked with brandy. 



and their rage turned to despair; they almost 
wept, and the five sat on a log together, a piti- 
ful sight in their disappointment. 

Taking advantage of the lull in the storm, 
I promised them that, on reaching the settle- 
ments, they should have as fine a drunk as the 
law would allow. They were quieted at this 
promise, and with a sort of mournful acquies- 
cence went dejectedly to work again preparing 
the pig and getting dinner. We had roast pig 
and a kind of biscuit that they made out of 
flour, salt, and water; the dough rolled up in 
thin strips, protected by leaves, and roasted 
over the fire. 

The dinner was good, and we ate nearly the 
whole of that pig and all the biscuit. I was 
soon ready for bed, and on turning in took the 
precaution of getting under my mosquito-net 
and keeping my pistol in my hand. 

The men were holding a consultation together 
in subdued voices, but I did not notice this, and 
presently they all went to bed. I fell asleep 
holding my pistol in my hand, and I can re- 
member indistinctly that a torch was held near 
the net so as to light up the inside for a time. 



and, half -awakened, I seemed to see ugly faces 
peering through at me. Perhaps they saw the 
pistol, and so kept off, but it might have been 
that I was only dreaming. 





We did not make a very early start next 
morning, and the men were slow getting break- 
fast, but at last it was brought to me, biscuit 
and some tinned meat, with a choice piece of 
wild pig, apparently saved especially for my 
benefit. I ate heartily, and then we started 
on, the trail now leading us up a steep moun- 

Presently I began to feel sick, and then to 
grow dizzy, and after a time could only strug- 
gle along. The chief saw it, was indifferent, 
and went on ; then two other men followed him, 
and the two younger men, who were a little 
behind, came up and were passing on with the 
others. Apparently they were all leaving me 
alone in the woods. I ordered the two young 
men to stop, but they would not. I made a 



motion with my hand, reaching for my pistol. 
This checked them, and we all sat down. Then 
I sent one of them for water, which he was a 
long time bringing, and after drinking a quan- 
tity I felt better. I do not think they intended 
to kill me with poison, but only gave me some- 
thing that would make me sick, and then it 
would be an easy thing to let me lose my way. 

I rested awhile, and, having drunk a quantity 
of water, was ready to go on again. After a 
time we overtook the others sitting by the road- 
side, and the boys got a fine blowing up from 
the chief in words which I could not understand. 
I made poor progress that day, and it was hard 
work to keep up at all. We fell in with a flock 
of wild turkeys ; I handed my rifle to the chief, 
and he killed an unusually large one, which gave 
us plenty of fresh meat again. We did not 
go much farther, and at night made camp in 
a beautiful ravine among the mountains, where 
there was a stream so cold that I could scarcely 
bathe in it. On one side was a high precipice, 
and a sloping mountain on the other, with a 
little open place of fresh, green grass by the 
stream. It was an enchanting place, and I be- 
gan to feel better at once. 



Keeping my pistol ready at my side, I took no 
special notice of the Indians. They were hold- 
ing a whispered conversation, and after a time 
seemed to agree on some point, and began pre- 
paring the camp for the night. Presently the 
chief came to me, and said in Spanish : " A 
bad place for tigers [jaguars] here; two men 
have been eaten, and we are afraid." 

" Never mind," I said, " I have my rifle and 
pistol, and will kill them if they come." 

" But jou are under your mosquito-net and in 
no danger." Which was true; a jaguar, or 
tiger, as they call them, will walk around a 
mosquito bar all night, often forming a beaten 
track about it, but it has never been known to 
make an attack. " Yes," the chief continued, 
" for you no danger, but for us, we have no 
guns; give me your rifle and I will take good 
care of you." 

Not wishing to refuse at once, I said he could 
have it when I went to bed, and with a look 
of triumph and delight he went back to tell the 

Here was a predicament, and I began to con- 
sider earnestly how I was to get out of it. The 
Indians were now in another mysterious consul- 



tation, and presently they came to me, and the 
chief said, " The tigers are so bad here we are 
afraid with only the rifle ; give this man your 
pistol, and we will sleep each side of you and 
keep you very safe; no harm will come, not 

I replied, " When I go to bed you can have 
it." They were delighted, and went off to^ 
gether, but they soon came back, asking if I 
had anything else that would shoot. On being 
told that I had not, they asked if I would not 
let them have my big knife, because the tigers 
were so dangerous, and they would be afraid 
even with the pistol and the rifle. Evidently the 
plan was to disarm me entirely, and I told them 
to wait till I went to bed, and they could then 
have what they wanted. I kept my firearms 
carefully in my hand, and was glad to find that 
they did not demand them at once, and so I re- 
mained, considering. 

The men were now in high spirits, and went 
to work getting supper, and making up a very 
comfortable bed for me. 

As soon as the turkey was ready, they all sat 
around, picking out choice pieces for me, and 
urging me to eat all that I could. Then they 



had their supper, and after that went down to 
the stream to clean up the dishes, chattering 
like a lot of children. The mosquito-net was 
hanging conveniently, and lifting up one cor- 
ner, I slipped my rifle, pistol, and hunting-knife 
under it, crawled in myself, and with my pistol 
in my hand sat up waiting for developments. 

I could see out very well, but, as the net was 
made of unbleached muslin, no one could tell 
exactly where I was, and, if there should be any 
attempt to cut through at me, I could shoot 
before the knife could find me out. The In- 
dians seemed to know this. When they came 
back, they walked around the net, talked, con- 
sidered, and finally gave it up, and each one 
went to bed. Then I felt relieved and was soon 
asleep, well assured that I was perfectly safe till 
the morning. 

I was up early, and met a rather ugly crowd 
of Indians. No breakfast was prepared, and I 
had to get along with the remains of the turkey 
and some crackers. The men said very little, 
but shouldered their packs, and marched off^, I 
following them. We had not gone far when the 
men put down their packs by a brook, and stood 
talking together; their faces indicated trouble, 



and I thought to myself, " Now it is really 
coming." I took little notice of them, however, 
and pretended to be examining some rocks, and 
presently pretending that I was deeply inter- 
ested, I climbed up on one, which kept me well 
out of the way of their knives. The men stood 
and watched me for awhile, and then the chief 
came to the rock, and looking up at me said: 

" We have been considering. You have given 
one of us a shirt, and that is good ; and you 
have given one of us a coat, and that is very 
good; but now the three other boys are so dis- 
couraged they can't get over this high moun- 
tain unless you take out your money and give 
them each another dollar." 

I replied that I was sorry, but I had no 
money; that the trader had paid them for me, 
as they knew, and then I went on examining the 
rock, I am sure not with great attention, except 
in appearance, because I have never been able to 
remember what kind of rock it was. 

" We can't go on unless we see the money." 

" Very well," I replied, " stay here. I have 
no money." 

Then the chief went back to the men, and 
they talked awhile longer. Then he came back 



again and said : " But you must have money. 
All Americans have money; only Indians are 
poor. The boys can't go on unless you show 
them your money and give them each another 

" I have money," I said, " but not here ; I 
must go to bring it, and you must take good 
care of me when I come back, because I will have 
a thousand dollars with me ; more than you ever 
saw before, and I will sleep at your house so 
that you can take good care of me." 

He opened his eyes and went back, and they 
talked some more. Then he came again, and 
was a little more threatening in his appearance: 
" We know you have got money," he said, " and 
we want to see it, and the boys won't go on." 

" I have only a little," I said, showing a few 
loose dollars that I carried in my pocket ; " but 
I will do this. When we get to the settlements, 
let the people know that I have very little 
money, and that they must take me on cheap; 
then, if I have any money left, I will give each 
of the boys another dollar." He went back, 
and in a few moments came to me again and 
said : "It is this way : we are thinking of the 
drink you promised us ; perhaps we can go on. 



Will you surely give it to us ? " and there was 
an anxious look in his face. 

" Yes," I said, " you can depend on it." 

"All we want.?" 

" Yes, all you want." 

" But we can drink a lot." 

" Never mind, go on ; you shall have it." 

" Senor," said the chief, " that will cost a 
lot of money. You have got money; we want 
to see it," and an ugly look came in his face, 
while the men crowded up to the rock. They 
certainly had me, but they saw that my pistol 
was ready, and I sat there facing them. Sud- 
denly a thought came to me, and I said, hastily, 
" I have credit. I can get all the things I want ; 
you shall have the rum, even though I have no 
money here to pay for it." Then I showed the 
chief my wallet, with passport, and some docu- 
ments with big seals on them. He looked at 
it and said: "This credit?" 

" Yes, but only when I sign the bill." 

They traded on credit themselves, and after 
a moment the chief said : " He hasn't any 
money ; let's go on." 

" But he has lots of things," said one of the 
young men, looking at the packs. 



I heard nothing more, and presently they 
took up their packs and marched on. 

I had no more trouble with them for two 
or three days, but one morning we came to a 
Piyu village, and the men said that they must 
stop there for the night. I protested, and said 
I would not, that they must go on ; but it was 
of no use, and my men went off with the Piyu 
men, and all talked together at the edge of 
the jungle. 

I felt miserably. My men were evidently 
unwilling to kill me themselves, because they 
feared my friend the trader; but if the Piyu 
men killed me, that was a different thing. 

The wife of the chief in that village was part 
Spanish, and I began to talk to her, and pres- 
ently asked if I was to be her guest. She re- 
plied that she supposed so. 

" But will I be safe here to-night.? " She 
made no answer. 

" Had I better go on to the settlements ? " 

" Yes," she said, " you had better go on ; 
there is plenty of time." 

" But the men won't go." 

" Make them," she said. 

I went out, and angrily commanded the men 



to go on, but they would not even answer me. 
Here was fresh trouble — to get all through the 
wilderness on my wits and then to be killed by 
these miserable Piyu men. I was turning over 
various plans, and presently went back to the 
house and saw the woman again, and said to her, 
" The men won't go. Will I be safe here to- 
night? " 

She made no answer. 

" Am I your guest .^^ " 

" Yes." 

" And will any harm come to a guest in your 
house? " 

She looked away. 

" A guest, and not safe in your house ? " I 

She looked at me and then at my pistol. 
" Can you shoot? " she asked. " Then do this: 
hang your hammock across that corner; I will 
bring my mats and sleep just outside it. If I 
touch your foot in the night, be ready and shoot 

We fixed the things, and then she said: 
" Now, you will be safe." She was evidently 
a determined woman. The Piyu chief objected 
to the arrangements, but that is all the good 

88 . 


it did him, and when night came I was soon 
asleep, and had a thoroughly good night's rest. 
Next morning, grateful to my good hostess, I 
started on and reached Coulme, the chief city of 
the civilized Piyu Indians, about three in the 

It was a great relief. I had now reached the 
settlements and was on the main road to the 
capital, which I could reasonably hope to reach 
in three or four days. At Coulme the civilized 
Piyu men did everything for me, so soon as 
they found I had not come from an infected 
district, and all they had was at my disposition. 
The chief of their village called a council, and 
he and the alcalde examined my papers, and, 
with all the men of the place crowding about, 
made polite speeches of welcome. 

My men said I had no money as they had 
promised, and the alcalde asked me about it; 
but I said I had plenty, and a tired look came 
over the faces of my guides. They could not 
get any rum, because there was none to be had, 
but I was safe now, and did not care. I gave 
them each the extra dollar; they seemed to be 
content, and that was the last I ever saw of 
them. I have travelled very far since then, 



but I have never had guides that were so diffi- 
cult to manage. 

Urged by the necessity of my mission, I asked 
the Piyu Indians to send me on at once, though 
I would have gladly remained a few days with 
them. Two sturdy little men shouldered all 
my things, and in a short time delivered me 
safely to the regular authorities at the nearest 
Spanish town. Here arrangements were made 
for sending me to the capital. Nothing had 
been heard of my opponent, and I began to feel 

Without waiting for breakfast, I started on 
next morning, riding a stout mule, a young 
Spanish-American peon for my attendant, and 
every prospect of reaching the end of my jour- 
ney without further trouble. I had expected 
to buy something to eat on the road, but had 
not succeeded very well, which was inconvenient. 
About noon we came to a broad, circular de- 
pression in the valley, surrounded by green 
grass-grown hills that looked like great waves 
just ready to break and sweep all before them; 
beyond were the mountains, looming up with 
startling effect, distant, yet seeming to hang, 
as it were, just over those picturesque green 



hills, like clouds hanging over the waves of the 
ocean. As we crossed this strange place, I 
noticed what appeared to be fine mushrooms 
growing abundantly, and asked my guide what 
they were. 

" Fruit of the earth," he replied. 

"Are they good to eat.?" I asked, feeling 
decidedly hungry. 

" Yes," he said, after a moment's hesitation, 
and then added, eagerly, " Shall I get some for 

" Yes, I would like to try them." 

He brought two almost as large as dessert 
plates, and then rode on with one in his hand. 
By all appearances they were the finest of mush- 
rooms. I tasted cautiously, and then ate one 
and part of another; but just then I noticed 
that my man was not eating his, and I thought 
to myself, " Now you have been a fool." But 
on waiting a moment, and not feeling any ill 
effects except a sort of acid coppery taste in 
the mouth, I did not take any action, and rode 
on, my man watching me intently. It was an 
extremely hot day, and some hours later, at 
about three p. m., while riding across a treeless 
plain, my stomach suddenly felt as if some one 



had stuck a knife into it, and then had poured 
hot oil in after the knife. I struggled to the 
ground, and by tickling the palate caused a 
period of vomiting, and relieved my stomach 
of a quantity of hard yellow matter, though 
I had eaten very little. For a moment or two 
I felt better, and then the pains came on again, 
and the burning, which now extended all up 
my throat and to my nose and mouth, was almost 
unendurable. I threw myself down in the shade 
and asked my man to get me water. He looked 
at me indifferently and said, " There is none 
nearer than a mile, and I have nothing to carry 
it in." 

The pain increased, and still he sat watching, 
making no effort to help me. Now the burning 
had extended to all my body, my mouth seemed 
perfectly dry, and a sort of delirium was ever 
increasing in my brain, till, almost beside myself 
with pain, I got on my feet, clutched the mane 
of my mule, and guided him on, seeking the 
river, though it was some distance before me. 
I had taken only a few steps when further prog- 
ress became impossible; I could scarcely see, 
and had lost all control over my legs. If any- 
thing was to be done, it must be quickly. I 



had all sorts of remedies for fevers and sick- 
ness, but had never thought of being poisoned. 
Suddenly I remembered a can of vaseline in my 
saddle-bags. I got it out I don't know how; 
the day was so hot it had turned to oil, but any- 
thing to drink would have been acceptable, and 
so I swallowed a quantity of the liquid vaseline. 
I will never forget the sensation of that swallow- 
ing ; it seemed to touch every point in my burn- 
ing throat and stomach, and to set them at rest. 
I saw again, and my first thought was for water. 
By keeping one hand on my mule I staggered 
on, followed by my indifferent peon, and just 
as the pains were coming on again I reached 
the river and fell to drinking water, and when 
I could drink no more I thrust my arms deep 
into the cool stream, and the very pores of the 
skin seemed to lick up the water. At intervals 
I would drink all I could, stopping only when it 
was physically impossible to take more; yet in 
two or three minutes I would be drinking again 
as eagerly as ever. Where the water went to 
I have no idea; it seems as though the human 
body could not hold the amount I drank. 

After a time there came a lull in the pain, 
and the desire for water left me, and then there 



was a delicious sensation of languor and rest 
all over my body. I lay there exhausted, and 
feeling a numbness and chill come over me, I 
believed that I was dying, and did not care. 
Then thoughts of my defeated mission, the 
triumph of my rival, the grief at my home far 
awa}^ in the North ; all came vividly to my mind, 
and I determined that I would not die. I stag- 
gered to my feet, mounted after several attempts 
and started on a wild ride for help to the little 
city of El Real, about three miles away. As 
I went I made the mule jounce and shake me 
on the saddle, which seemed to keep up the circu- 
lation. As I drew near the city I got a little 
boy, whom I overtook, to run ahead and buy 
some raw eggs. Presently he met me with them, 
and the whites of these gave considerable relief. 
Then I got a big gourd of water; there must 
have been about three quarts. It had a sweet- 
ish taste, but I drank it all, and in an instant 
I was vomiting with almost incredible violence, 
and was nearly suffocated by it. I relieved my- 
self of more of the hard yellow matter and 
quantities of water, and was thoroughly sat- 
isfied that there was nothing more in my stom- 
ach. My servant now became all attention. 


took me to a good house and did for me every- 
thing that was possible. After resting a short 
time I took some rum and black coffee, went to 
bed and fell into a sort of stupor, in which I 
knew nothing, but was dimly conscious that at 
intervals all through the night my man came 
and rubbed my arms and legs vigorously. 

The next morning I was better, and rode on 
to Jutigalpa, the capital of the Department of 
Olancho, the point toward which I had been 
struggling so long. 

I inquired anxiously for my rival; nothing 
had been heard of him. I had arrived first. 

Without losing any time, I went to the gov- 
ernment offices and registered my titles, and 
then drew a long breath. My rival could come 
as soon as he wished; the registry was com- 





Next day my first care was to arrange for 
an expedition down the river with sufficient 
equipment to relieve my companions and bring 
up all our things. I went to a merchant on 
whom I had letters of credit, to be sure that 
funds were available, and, on being assured 
that money was there at my disposal, felt that 
I could safely send after my companions, and 
started the expedition at once. Then I rented 
a small house, hotels being unknown in Juti- 
galpa, and made myself comfortable. 

I was far from the beaten track in a quaint 
old Spanish-American city, the principal place 
in the great interior valley of the Olancho; a 
region shut in by lofty mountain ranges, iso- 
lated, almost, from the outer world. Shortly 



I found myself in need of more money, having 
reduced my funds to two dollars and fifty cents, 
and went to the merchant on whom my letters 
of credit were drawn. 

He was quite ready to supply funds, but when 
I presented a draft, he said : " There is some 
mistake here, my instructions are that your 
superintendent must countersign all drafts." 

" No," I said, " I deposited the n. >ney per- 
sonally, and the credit is secured against my 
own deposit." Explanations were of no avail, 
however, some mistake had 'been made ; I could 
have no money, was alone in a strange city with 
only two dollars and fifty cents between myself 
and starvation, the mail comunications uncer- 
tain, and no possibility that a letter could reach 
New York under six weeks. Here was a diffi- 
culty, and, to make matters more complicated, a 
polite constable came that afternoon to arrest 
me because of some matters relating to unpaid 
debts contracted some years earlier by my super- 
intendent. The prospect was not altogether 
charming, but, remembering that if I were ar- 
rested they would at least have to feed me, a 
consideration I was not in a position to despise^ 
I submitted willingly; and then the constable 



decided that he would not arrest me, went his 
way, and left me to wonder why he had come 
and what I should do. Fortunately, I had paid 
for my house in advance, so I was sure of a place 
in which to sleep, and, as bananas were three for 
a cent, I would not starve; but the diet was 
not the most exhilarating. I lived on bananas 
for three days, kept my own counsel and waited. 
I was an object of curiosity, the boys of the 
town wandered in and out of my house at will, 
and all the fruit venders came to offer me 
bananas. The third day, in the afternoon, I 
was delighted to receive a visit from a gentle- 
man who spoke perfect English, and who in- 
quired minutely about my affairs. 

With many apologies he assured me that I 
was most welcome to their city, and that he 
hoped I understood their difficulty in accepting 
drafts from strangers, in fact, almost every 
American who had visited their city had sold 
drafts which on being presented had proved 
worthless ; and so, with many profuse apologies, 
he protested it was not lack of hospitality, but 
only that they had lost so frequently. I assured 
him I understood, and did not expect any one 
to take an unsecured draft. Still he protested, 



apologizing and regretting my three days' in- 
convenience, and finally ended by saying that 
he had been selling cattle, and, having a bal- 
ance of three thousand dollars on hand, begged 
that I would accept it until my funds arrived, 
and hoped that I would excuse his neglect in 
not offering sooner. This was indeed Spanish 
hospitality, and I told him if he would lend 
me enough money to cable home, my funds 
would arrive immediately. We went to the 
telegraph office without delay, and next morn- 
ing a reply came, bringing ample funds, my 
credit was established, and every door was 
opened wide for me. 

To become a part of the daily life in a re- 
mote Spanish-American city was a charming 
experience, and I have the most pleasant recol- 
lections of my brief visit to Jutigalpa ; so pleas- 
ant indeed that I am often planning to return. 
There is a legend of an enchantment pertaining 
to a group of rocks overhanging a deep pool 
in the Olancho River, and it is related that who- 
ever dives from those rocks to the deep, clear 
water below them must return to Olancho, and 
die there; though the venturesome person who 
dares the enchantment may wander far over the 



face of the earth, and return to and leave the 
valley many times, yet in the end he will die 
in Olancho. Each morning a goodly company 
of men and boys would visit the deep pool for 
a bath; it was the regular morning exercise, 
and I rarely failed to find a place in the party. 
I am not a believer in charms, and have taken 
a header from that enchanted ledge of rocks 
many times. Since then I have wandered very 
far, yet I have never found a place so beautiful 
as the valley of the Olancho, and some day I 
hope to return to it once again. 

After our bath we would go back to the city 
for breakfast, and then the morning's work 
would be taken up, and by noon-time much 
would have been accomplished. Then came the 
dreamy rest through the heat of the day, when 
one simply sat at ease and did not care even to 
think. Usually some friends would come to my 
house, and pleasant hours were spent smoking, 
idling, and discussing affairs of local interest; 
then in the afternoon work again, and at even- 
ing a walk about the city, visiting friends or 
stopping to talk with young ladies seated in 
their low, open, but heavily guarded windows. 

One beautiful moonlight night, as I strolled 



about alone, I passed the shop of a humble 
shoemaker, who was seated before his door. 
As I passed he politely invited me to a seat; 
such an invitation did seem a little strange from 
my shoemaker, yet, not wishing to appear rude, 
I accepted his invitation, and found him well 
informed about the valley and its history. Pres- 
ently the Governor of Olancho came passing by, 
and the shoemaker invited him to a seat, which 
he accepted at once; then a Senator for the 
district, and one of the richest men in the city, 
came that way, and he, too, took a seat at the 
shoemaker's door. Surely we were a mixed 
company, yet no differences were made; a shoe- 
maker, a stranger who had come among them, 
one of the city's richest men, and the Governor 
of the Province, all on a pleasant footing to- 
gether, without any pretension; yet the shoe- 
maker never failed in due respect, nor was there 
anything in his manner from which one might 
infer that he did not think himself good enough 
to pay his respects where respect was due. 

Among such surroundings the days went 
pleasantly, and my brief rest was thoroughly 
enjoyed. It was in the month of December, the 
time of festivities, and there were bull-fights, 



parades, and on Christmas Eve dances and fam- 
ily reunions ; to all of which I was invited, 
and I have never had the pleasure of more 
kindly entertainment. The principal reunion 
was given by Governor Zalaya's family, and 
there all the best people of the city were gath- 
ered together. Etiquette was somewhat differ- 
ent from our customs. The company was in- 
vited at eight o'clock in the evening, and it was 
polite to arrive on the minute. Guests did not 
go directly to the house, but as the hour ap- 
proached stood near, and when the great clock 
in the church chimed eight we all filed in to- 
gether, and were received by our host and host- 
ess ; then the gentlemen went to one room, the 
ladies to another, and the sounds of pleasant 
conversation filled the house. Everywhere were 
preparations for merrymaking; at the doors 
and in the yard servants, peons, and estate 
tenants were gathered, enjoying themselves at 
the expense of their masters, and a great com- 
pany they all made; but within the house were 
only the guests, not so very many, merely the 
family and their most particular friends. A 
good time, a period of thorough enjoyment, 
has an effect on one's spirits, and all this scene 



was most exhilarating. After we had talked 
together for awhile, a lively polka was started, 
and the ladies came from their room in single 
file and stood with their backs to the wall in 
the main saloon, and then the men filed out 
of their room and stood looking on. The young 
ladies were pretty, modest, and becomingly 
dressed; some of the jewels were truly magnifi- 
cent. I was told later that many of them had 
been handed down from generation to genera- 
tion since the days of the Spanish conquest. 

A friend whispered to me that I should not 
seek a partner at once, that there were more men 
than ladies, and it would be polite for the men 
to give place to each other; so after a moment 
of forbearance, and mutual urgings among the 
gentlemen, a dance was arranged, and to meas- 
ured music now grown slower we danced about 
the great saloon, while the servants, peons, and 
their friends stood looking in at the door. I 
was dancing with a charming little Sefiorita, but 
found myself no match among my Spanish- 
American friends, who were going through a 
series of graceful figures and a great variety 
of steps, a sort of quadrille-polka and stately 
ceremony combined. I could take no part in 



this, so devoted myself to my partner, and 
found the dance very pleasant. When it was 
over, I took her to a comfortable seat in the 
great saloon, and, drawing a smaller chair to 
her side, sat in it myself, expecting a pleasant 
conversation till the next dance; but she sim- 
ply gave me an appealing look, and said noth- 
ing. Then I noticed my hostess standing near 
the ladies' room as if petrified with dismay, 
a look of horror on her face, while all the young 
ladies were staring as if their eyes would pop 

There was an instant of bewildered looks, then 
the Senorita's Duenna came anxiously to the 
rescue, and hurried her to safety in the ladies' 
room, but as she went she looked back at me 
with a merry laugh, and I knew the Senorita had 
enjoyed the adventure. Then some of the men 
told me that I had committed the greatest in- 
decorum, that no man could sit by a young 
lady under any circumstances. That I was a 
stranger was sufficient explanation, and when I 
told my hostess of our customs at home during 
a dance, she was deeply interested, and I was 
entirely forgiven. 

We danced till midnight and then went to 



mass, a beautiful custom and ceremony; the 
church was filled to overflowing, all the dancers 
and merrymakers in the city having come, re- 
membering their religious duties as the first act 
of Christmas morning. Then each party went 
again to their festivities, and we who were the 
Governor's guests returned to a bountiful sup- 
per, where there were many different kinds of 
meats and rich dishes, but very little in the way 
of sweets. The ladies all sat at a long table, and 
the men attended them, standing respectfully 
behind their chairs ; then when the ladies had 
finished, they went back to their room, and the 
men had supper. After this, dancing was con- 
tinued till sunrise, the men going about the city, 
visiting other dances to which they had been 
invited, and returning to the Governor's dance 
at pleasure, for after supper everything became 
quite informal. It was broad daylight when 
we went home, all agreeing that we had enjoyed 
a most delightful entertainment; for myself, 
I have never since attended a dance where thor- 
ough enjoyment, friendship, and courtesy were 
so charmingly blended. 

I was fortunate to have been in Jutigalpa 
during Christmas week, and shall always re- 



member it as one of the most pleasant experi- 
ences in all my travels, yet I was not sorry when 
the festivities were over and I could take up 
my work again. 





My first effort was to seek the mines that 
I had come so far to investigate, and a few 
days later I left the hospitable city of Juti- 
galpa, and with a comfortable outfit made my 
way up the Olancho valley to the valley of Lapa- 
guera, — a place beautiful almost beyond de- 
scription. The broad valley, level like a prairie, 
covered with green grass, extended east and 
west almost as far as the eye could reach ; thou- 
sands of cattle were quietly feeding, a few trees 
in groups were seen at places, and on either side, 
rising abruptly, were great ranges of moun- 

Our trail led over the mountains to the north, 
and we were presently making our way among 
groves of tall pine-trees, where from the 
branches gigantic festoons of gray moss hung 



drooping. As we began to climb the moun- 
tains one of our mules commenced a series of 
unreasonable capers. She was a strong young 
animal, and evidently preferred the green valley 
of the Lapaguera to the lonely mountainsides, 
and she now apparently proposed to rove at her 
fancy. Sometimes her fancy took her along 
the high places above the road, sometimes she 
went down below it, then she seemed to have lost 
something, and acted as though she expected to 
find it in the woods, but she had decided objec- 
tions to walking on the road, and so gave the 
peons a great deal of trouble. Finally there 
came to one a brilliant thought. I had a steady 
old horse, and they caught the ambitious mule 
and tied her securely to my horse's tail; it 
wasn't considerate to the horse, but it did fix 
the mule. She couldn't stop conveniently, and 
she couldn't get past the horse, neither could 
she wander up to the hilltops or climb down 
among the gulleys without taking the horse 
along, too, but that was inconvenient. For a 
time all went well, but after awhile we came to 
a place where the road went down between 
rather steep banks till it reached a stream of 
considerable volume. My horse went down the 



trail in a resigned sort of way, but the mule 
started along the bank and wouldn't come into 
the trail; the result was that presently she 
could go no further, and then came a tug of 
war, to see whether the horse in the gully could 
pull the mule down from the high bank or 
whether the mule could pull the horse's tail out. 
I scrambled from the saddle as fast as possible, 
and then the animals seemed to come to an 
understanding; the horse backed up as far as 
he could, and the mule braced her fore feet and 
hung her head over the bank as far as possible, 
and so they stood. Presently the peons came 
and untied them, and I declined to have them 
done up again; and so for the rest of the way 
that mule followed its own sweet will, " and a 
' mule's ' will is the wind's will," and the 
thoughts of a mule are long, long thoughts, 
incomprehensibly long. 

The trail led on over green rolling moun- 
tain ridges and down the little level valleys. 
and after two days' riding I reached a village 
called La Union, a beautiful place at the head 
of a valley of low hills between mountain ranges. 

Next morning I made an early start for the 
mines. I had made a boasting agreement in 



New York that I would examine every portion 
of the property; reports stated that fabulous 
wealth lay exposed along a precipice where a 
stream had cut a deep gorge through the moun- 
tains. I found the place just as described, 
except that there was very little mineral, yet 
enough to make me anxious to see all the preci- 

I went to the upper part of the gorge, where 
a good view could be had down the river, but 
could see no signs of any mineral deposits. 
Then I said to my guide that we would go on 
down the river, but he told me it was impossible, 
that no person had ever been down the gorge, 
nor could they possibly go. However, we went 
on as far as we could, and presently came to a 
place where the river cut its way through solid 
walls of rock. I then proposed to go around 
to the other side and come up the gorge, but 
my guide said that was equally impossible, and 
that at this place there were about two miles of 
rock which no man or animal could pass. I 
quoted the description of the mine, at which the 
guide laughed, and told me that such a report 
was the exaggeration of an impossibility. I 
had no thought of giving up, however, and 



asked the guide if I could not swim down the 
river, at which he looked at me in astonishment. 
" Impossible ; the place is full of snakes, and 
there must be a big waterfall in there, because 
the river is much lower on the other side of the 

I wasn't going home without seeing every 
inch of that gorge ; the precipice had been noted 
in a former report and I proposed to examine it. 
So I threw off my clothes, telling my guide I 
intended to take a bath. I found the water cool 
and pleasant, and presently let the current 
carry me slowly down, then swam to one side 
and came back again, as if I meant nothing, 
fearing that the guide might restrain me by 
force, for by this time he, too, had entered the 
water. Then I let the current take me down 
again. This time I went a little further, and 
when well beyond his reach, while he shouted 
to recall me, I let the current carry me into the 
gorge, then around a bend, and I was alone, 
rocks and water all about me, and a line of 
blue sky overhead. I was frightened, but hav- 
ing started, I meant to keep on. 

The river was low, and for a time I floated 
lazily along, watching out for signs of exposed 



mineral deposits ; but there was nothing, only 
dark rocks of even texture. Presently I no- 
ticed that the current was becoming swifter, and 
so I caught hold of a convenient ledge, and held 
myself back to see what was ahead of me. 
There were some rapids, a little cascade, and 
further on more rapids, and I floated carefully 
down to them, keeping well against the rocks. 
There was not much difficulty about getting 
over the cascade, just a tumble into a deep basin 
of water, where I was washed up to one side 
and found a convenient seat on a gravel bed 
under a rock, where I stopped to rest and con- 
sider. The rapids were a little threatening, but 
I decided to try them, and soon had the pleasure 
of finding that, though the water was rough, 
it was deep and easy to swim in, with plenty of 
eddies along the sides, where I could avoid the 
heaviest currents. Going on down, I came to 
a place where the rocks of the precipice sud- 
denly changed, and above the dark, intrusive 
rocks a contact with sedimentary types could 
be distinctly seen; but there were no signs of 
mineral, and I floated on down, and presently 
came to the end of the gorge, about a mile or 
more from the place where I had left my clothes. 



I rested for a time, and then started to swim 
back, but it was fatiguing work, and presently 
the current became too strong for me. Here 
was a predicament; it was some miles around 
the base of the mountain to where I left my 
clothes ; to walk that distance naked in all the 
burning sun could not be even thought of, and 
to clamber along the rocks where, because of the 
dry season, hundreds of snakes had gathered, 
seemed madness. I was well perplexed as to 
what I should do, and not a little frightened. 
After considering, I determined to climb along 
the rocks, and started out on a really perilous 
journey. I saw snakes from time to time, but 
these were accommodating, and got out of the 
way, though I was constantly in dread of the 
next step. Scorpions and black tarantulas were 
numerous, and as I climbed along the cliffs 
among the black rocks I saw poisonous snakes 
and dreaded insects ; with deep shadows about me 
and here and there a radiant beam of sunlight, 
I was constantly reminded of Dore's illustra- 
tions of the Inferno. Weird and dangerous 
as it was, I soon became accustomed to it all, 
and then deeply interested in the strange, wild 
beauty of my surroundings. When I came to 



the place where I had noted the sedimentary 
rocks, I climbed up to them, selected a few small 
specimens to take back with me, and then tying 
them in a leaf, with a bit of inner bark from 
a convenient trumpet-tree, I started on again, 
carrying the little package with my teeth. So 
I made my way on, swimming at times and at 
others climbing along steep rocks. A fall, the 
sting of a poisonous insect or snake bite would 
probably be fatal, and I was thoroughly tired 
out with excitement, as well as from the exertion, 
when I finally got over the little cascade, forced 
my way along the side of the swift water above 
it, and came to the open river with an easy swim 
ahead of me to reach my clothes. One can rest 
beautifull}' in the water, and by the time I 
reached my guide I was feeling quite rested 
again. A number of people had gathered there, 
all supposing I was dead, and they hardly knew 
what to say when I told them where I had been, 
and I think that none of them believed me. A 
searching party had gone around the mountain 
to look for my body, and at the little town of 
La Union work had been commenced on my 
coffin, — a matter of some concern to me because 



I had to pay for it, and coffins are expensive 
in that country. 

After this I set out on my way, returning 
to Jutigalpa, and on the road had an experience 
with eniguas, a species of small flea. Probably 
all who travel in Spanish America will suffer 
to some extent from these annoying insects. 
The female fastens herself to any protected 
place on one's skin, particularly under the toe 
nails; and then working her way through the 
outer skin, forms a little nest and lays a multi- 
tude of eggs; these increase in size, and grad- 
ually develop till numerous little grubs are 
formed, which immediately begin to feed on the 
living flesh of the person who is so unfortunate 
as to harbour them. Then serious results may 
be expected, the pain is most severe, and not 
infrequently the loss of one's feet follows, or, 
perhaps, blood-poisoning sets in, to end in a 
most miserable death. This, however, is only 
among those who, from ignorance or other 
cause, allow the eniguas's eggs to remain under 
the skin till they develop the living grubs. For- 
tunately, some days pass before the grubs de- 
velop, while an intense itching gives early warn- 
ing that something is wrong, and to remove 



the eggs is a very simple matter; usually after 
removing them an unpleasant sore is left, re- 
quiring some days to heal. I found a number 
of sores on my feet looking like little boils with 
a black spot in the centre of each. I thought 
they were nothing but boils, and was surprised 
to find a tough skin covering them, but by prick- 
ing this open I cleaned them out rather indiffer- 
ently, and, finding the pain relieved, thought no 
more about it. Later my feet began to pain 
again, presently swelling set in, till one morning 
I could not put on my shoes, and then I became 
rather alarmed. 

I called one of the natives and learned that 
eniguas had g,ttacked my feet, that I had al- 
lowed some of the eggs to hatch, and that now 
the grubs were eating into the living flesh, which 
might cause the loss of both my feet. This was 
serious, and the remedy they proposed was a 
thing that the bravest might shrink from. I 
was told that the only way to save my feet was 
to let the natives strap me down on a table so that 
I could not move, while they scraped the sores 
with bits of glass till they had taken out all 
the grubs, and they might be obliged to even 
scrape the bones. 



I consented, of course, but the preparations 
sent cold perspiration trickling down my back. 
Fortunately, I was spared the suffering; an old 
medicine-woman happened to be in camp, who 
said that if I would give her a dollar she would 
cure my feet in a day without cutting them. 
A dollar was no consideration, and she had it 
at once, though I must confess I doubted her. 
She seemed to know just what she was about, 
and went at once to the woods to get some herbs. 
Within an hour she was back again, carrying a 
lot of bruised leaves crushed together in one 
hand. These she roasted over the fire and 
squeezed a black liquor out of them, which she 
dropped into the sores on my feet. It seemed 
as though she was using liquid fire, but the 
sting was only for an instant; then as soon as 
the smarting had passed, the pain in my feet 
became easier. I had a number of other sores 
on my feet and legs which she treated, and then 
told me that all would be well in the morning. 
They certainly were feeling much better, and 
I was decidedly relieved. She would not take 
any more money, but ordered me to keep quiet 
and she would come back to see me next day. 

When morning came, I was surpised to find 



that my feet were perfectly cool and natural, 
that all the swelling had gone down, and that 
the sores were beginning to heal. 

They never gave me any more trouble, and 
when the medicine-woman came back I deter- 
mined to learn her secret. It was hard work, 
and money would not buy it; but finally she 
consented to tell me because I assured her it 
would be useful to a great many people. 

I found that what she had used was a common 
weed, called locally Soto Caballo, which grows 
all over Olancho in Honduras ; yet I have never 
met with it in any other country. 

I took samples, but, when later I showed them 
to doctors and manufacturing chemists, I was 
met with a smile of incredulity for my story, 
and informed that the profession was abun- 
dantly supplied with antiseptics. 

After my feet were better, I went on again, 
and, reaching Jutigalpa, found that my late 
companions were determined to continue in their 
chase after delusive hopes, and believing that I 
had seen enough of their affairs and aspirations, 
separated myself from them, and turned my 
attention to other affairs. I had about deter- 
mined to leave Honduras when I received an 



offer from a party of " capitalists," who had 
come to the country for the purpose of develop- 
ing mining interests, and now wanted me to or- 
ganize part of their working force. I was 
reluctant to leave Honduras so soon, and con- 
sidering their offer advantageous both for my- 
self and my principals, I accepted and went dili- 
gently to work on their affairs. 





I SOON found that for reckless extravagance 
and almost idiotic proceedings this outfit was 
beyond anything I had ever known. One morn- 
ing responsibility for transactions of which I 
knew nothing, and for money which I had never 
seen, were charged up against my department, 
and I promptly offered my resignation, feeling 
well assured that I had seen quite enough of those 
people. Then there was a row, and finally they 
complained that my course was dishonourable; 
that they had spent money to bring me to their 
camp, and that they had thought I was to be 
depended on. This touched me in a tender spot, 
and I agreed to be at their service until they 
were sufficiently compensated for expenses in- 
curred in my behalf, but I refused absolutely 
to handle any money for them. 



One Sunday morning, shortly after our dis- 
agreement, the manager and the capitalists who 
had come out with him were in a state of excite- 
ment; perhaps they were tired of telling each 
other how great they were, or perhaps they had 
become angry as to their respective greatness; 
from where I was I could not tell. Presently 
one of the servants came hurrying over to me, 
and asked that I should go immediately to the 
manager. I went, and was told that he might 
be able to use me in a little matter that had 
come up. I made no answer, and presently 
learned that some important papers had been 
entirely neglected, and that unless by some 
means or other these papers could be deposited 
in the bank at Tagucigalpa, the capital, before 
sunrise Tuesday morning, serious loss would re- 
sult, and the proposition was that I should go 
and deposit the papers on time, a difficult under- 
taking. I would have to reach Tagucigalpa 
from the lower Olancho valley before Tuesday 
morning, over a rough trail of one hundred and 
twenty miles across two mountain ranges — a 
trip that usually took from five to seven days. 
After considering a moment, I said : " If you 
give me a mule that can do the work, I can sit 



on its back till we arrive; it is only a question 
of long hours in the saddle, and the endurance 
of the mule." 

I was assured of a good mule, and knowing 
that there were several high-priced animals at 
camp well able to do the work, I made hurried 
preparations, anticipating a novel and perhaps 
pleasant experience. My preparations were 
soon made; a pair of saddle-bags, a change of 
underclothing, an ounce of quinine, a two-ounce 
package of condensed soup — that was all. 

I hurried over to the offices, where we all 
waited anxiously for the mule. While waiting 
I was told that if I succeeded in depositing the 
papers on time my associates would be amply 
compensated for having brought me to their 
camp. About nine o'clock the manager's serv- 
ant came, bringing a mule — a little animal 
not half grown, and which had never been ridden 
before. The men employed about the mines had 
come to see me start, and when the manager said, 
proudly : " Now, there is as fine an animal 
as you could want; it will take you easily in 
two days," the whole crowd began to laugh 
derisively, which made him furious. 

I said to the capitalist : " Mr. Blank, that 



mule can never take me in two days ; you must 
give me one of the better animals." 

The manager protested angrily, and the cap- 
italist, now thoroughly anxious, said : " Oh, go, 
go on. The manager is an expert and knows his 
business; he says the animal can take you; 
don't object so much, but do something for us." 

I said : " Mr. Blank, that mule can never 
cross the first range of mountains, but I will get 
your papers in the bank on time." 

Then I mounted the little animal, and had 
considerable difficulty in getting it to start, but 
finally it did go, and I was soon out of sight 
over the hills. 

It was a gallant little mule, and took me 
fifteen miles in three hours, and then it broke 
down, and not another step could I get out of 
it. I had expected one day's work from it, and 
the situation was serious. 

It looked as though I was stuck, but fortu- 
nately some soldiers came along just then, and 
I made a bargain with them to have my saddle 
carried on to the next place where I hoped to 
secure an animal. I left the little mule at a 
house near by, and then we started. It was 



an eighteen-mile tramp, but we got in safely 
about four o'clock. 

I went at once to the Alcalde, and applied 
for an animal, but here I was in worse luck: 
the city was in " fiesta," and all the men who 
were not drunk were trying to become so as fast 
as possible. Animals? Was that all I wanted? 
I could have all Honduras, but to-morrow. 
This would have been too late. Fortunately, I 
found two men who were not quite so drunk as 
the others, and I offered to pay them five dollars 
each if they would walk with me all night and 
carry my saddle and other things till I could 
find an animal. They readily agreed, and we 
started on our hard tramp. Rough work, in- 
deed, but I determined to keep on. About mid- 
night we came to a little tavern, and my men 
were so tired that they begged me to let them 
find substitutes, and they would not take any 
of the money. I told them I had no objections 
to new men, and said that they might make the 
best bargain they could and save the difference. 
They tried from house to house, but It was of no 
use; none would undertake the journey. 

Then I said : " I am sorry, but my necessities 
require that you carry out your agreement; we 


must go on." They went obediently, the law 
and custom of that country compelling them. 

At intervals I let them sleep for twenty min- 
utes, mounting guard myself, then we would 
push on. I was excited, and made the most 
fearful exertions. Once we lost the trail, and 
went some miles out of our way, but by sunrise 
we had crossed the largest range of mountains. 
We pushed on, and about 11 a. m. Monday 
morning I reached Talanga, hardly able to 
stand. I felt sure of success now. I had made 
seventy-five miles on foot in nineteen hours, and 
I was within twelve leagues of my journey's 
end, requiring only an animal that could do an 
ordinary day's work. But misfortunes were 
everywhere; not an animal could be had, and I 
was too exhausted to think of walking further. 
However, I felt compelled to do the best I could ; 
so I telegraphed to Major Burke, of New Or- 
leans, to whom I was consigned, telling him the 
condition I was in, and stating that I would 
come on as far as I could, and when I gave 
out I would lie down across the road, and if I 
was not In by midnight to send a courier out 
to get the papers, as they must be deposited 
before sunrise Tuesday morning. 



Then I prepared to push on. As I was about 
to start, a man came and said he owned a horse 
which had never been ridden yet, but if I 
thought I could ride him I could try. 

It was a chance, but I determined to risk it, 
and with a good peon at my side started on 
again. The horse was a little troublesome at 
first, but he took to work naturally, and I made 
good progress. 

About four o'clock we came to a group of 
great orange-trees, loaded down with fruit, and 
because of my exhaustion I never had anything 
that tasted so good in my life; the fruit was 
perfect, and for ten cents I bought more than I 
could possibly carry. 

Everything went well till I came to a little 
place called Cofradia, four leagues from the 
capital. I felt that I had almost succeeded when 
sudden pains shot through my body, followed 
by a violent chill, and then my legs became par- 
alyzed. I lost all control over myself, and it 
seemed as though my teeth would rattle out 
of my head. I managed to get my feet out of 
the stirrups, and half fell to the ground, then 
I staggered to a house and sank down by the 



As soon as I found my voice, I asked for 
some hot water, but was informed that the 
women had all gone to a dance, and the men 
did not consider it their business to boil water. 
I might have died — that was nothing; they 
would not touch a woman's work. 

Then I asked for rum, which fortunately 
they had, and more fortunate still was the tin 
of quinine powder in my saddle-bags. I drank 
some rum and then tried to take some quinine, 
but my hands were shaking so much that I could 
not measure it, and I shook out a quantity, 
almost as much as my hand could hold. I looked 
at it, and then I thought, well, I am dying 
anyway, and it may as well be from the quinine 
as anything; so, without considering, I took 
it all. It must have been nearly a quarter of 
an ounce ; after that I drank a little more rum, 
then I waited for a moment, and my strength 
came back. It seemed to be exactly what I 

It was then about seven o'clock in the evening, 
and I started on at once, but it was cruel work, 
and I fell asleep continually on the saddle; and 
presently the peon began to walk by my side to 
prevent my falling. This continued for a time, 



and finally, about 11 o'clock, I reached the cap- 

I had succeeded; this kept me awake till I 
arrived at the hotel and delivered the papers to 
Major Burke, who was sitting up, waiting anx- 
iously for them. 

He opened the package, looked at the letters 
and papers, and then said : " Can you tell me 
what they mean by this absurdity? I have 
attended to all these matters." I tried to 
answer, but could not speak, and the major 
got me into bed as soon as possible, two men 
helping me undress. I was asleep long before 
they put me in bed, and I am told that the 
best doctor in the capital was called to see me 
two or three times, and that he said the only 
thing was to let me sleep, though my condi- 
tion was very serious. He didn't know about 
the quantity of quinine I had taken, and while 
I slept this certainly did me good service, and 
when I awoke, after sleeping all the next day 
and the night following, I was as fresh and 
felt as well as when I started. 

I said I was ready to go back to camp at 
once, but Major Burke told me he proposed 
that I should rest for a week at least, and said 



I must amuse myself as I pleased ; or, if I liked, 
I could do some light work for him. 

I chose to do the work, of course, and saw a 
great deal of the major. He was full of enthu- 
siasm over the development of his different min- 
ing interests, and spoke eagerly of the day when 
he would walk in to New Orleans and pay back 
certain money which the city officials claimed 
from him, though they had no right to it; and 
from day to day he worked enthusiastically on. 
and I have never known a more considerate em- 
ployer or a more thorough business man. 

At the end of the week I started on my way 
back to camp, taking five days where I had 
come in less than two. I expected that now I 
would find my associates more reasonable; but 
in this I was mistaken ; folly and extravagance 
were unrestrained, and after a few weeks I went 
away, very glad that my connection with such 
an enterprise could be terminated. 





After this experience, I prepared to leave 
Honduras. It was time now to investigate the 
rubber forests of Southern Costa Rica and 
Northern Panama. At Jutigalpa I tarried a 
few days, exchanging visits of farewell with 
numerous friends, and then set out for the 
coast, hoping to find some means of transporta- 
tion to Costa Rica. 

On the way to the coast, I came to a place 
where all the road had been washed out by 
unusual rains, and my only way to go on was 
over a little used trail, well known to be rough 
and dangerous. I preferred this, however, to 
turning back, and gave little heed to tales of 
accidents and death told by my guides. 

At first the trail was only rough, not danger- 
ous, but presently we came to a steep mountain- 



side, where a fall would mean destruction. A 
little further on, the trail became so steep that 
I determined to walk down and drive the mule 
ahead of me; but she would not go, and I had 
to mount and ride before she would undertake 
it. This was rather a novel ride; the mule 
could not take a step, it was so slippery; she 
simply set her feet and slid from one bend in 
the trail to the next, and then turned carefully, 
and slid on down ; it was coasting on mule-back, 
interesting, but rather hard on the mule, and 
when we reached better ground she was so 
frightened that to manage her was difficult. 
Further on, the trail became soft, a sticky red 
clay, in which the mules sank almost to their 
knees, as they struggled on down the mountain. 
The trail was very imperfect, only a narrow 
strip trodden out by passing animals, and the 
first thing I knew my mule was standing on a 
small log that had been placed to mend about 
twelve to fifteen feet of the track where it had 
broken away. Here two or three animals had 
been killed, and the mule was hesitating, while 
the log moved uncertainly. To turn back or 
dismount was impossible; there was nothing to 
do but force the animal on over and take the 


chances, so drawing the reins tight and throw- 
ing my feet out of the stirrups, that I might 
have a better chance if we fell, I forced the 
mule across, though it was a good deal like 
riding on a tight rope. 

By good fortune I got over safely, and when 
the frightened peon — my guide — found his 
voice, he said, " I should have told you to dis- 
mount before you reached it, but if you can 
ride like that you had better keep your saddle, 
it will be safer for you and for the mule, too." 
So we struggled on down, but the dangers were 
not over. At a turn where the trail was very 
steep, I could see the track made in the tall 
grass where two mules had gone rolling down to 
destruction. Just at this point my mule seemed 
to lose control of herself and began to slip 
toward this fatal spot, and there seemed no way 
to check her; she tried to pull back, but the 
soft mud afforded no foothold, and we were just 
slipping over when she braced her forefeet, and 
then managed to turn herself, hesitated between 
falling and going on for an instant, and then 
we headed on down for the next turn. 

So it went, and all the while there was a heavy 
strain on the crupper of my saddle; finally, 



at a critical moment, it broke, the saddle slipped 
forward, and I found myself hanging over 
space with nothing but a mule's neck between 
me and destruction. My first feeling was to 
jump and try to catch the tall grass as I fell; 
then I shouted to my peon, who, just a few 
feet from me, was frightened into uselessness, 
and he simply stood and looked. I kept liaul- 
ing on the reins to make the mule keep her head 
up ; she was slipping, and I could feel the bank 
giving way, as she trampled on it to get a foot- 
hold. Far below me I could see a river rushing 
along, and it seemed only a matter of an instant, 
but here the path was very narrow, and I found 
that by reaching back over my head with one 
hand I could grasp the roots of the grass above 
me, and so soon as the mule was relieved of 
my weight she regained the path, and we were 
both safe. 

The peon repaired the crupper and I rode on 
down, but when I got to the bottom of that 
mountain the strain and fright had been so 
great I was absolutely played out, and had to 
rest for an hour before I could sit on my saddle. 

I had now reached the low lands again, and 
stopped for the night at a group of rude huts. 



I was making a small collection of orcliids, and 
saw what I thought a desirable specimen near 
the top of a tall tree. I bargained with a bright 
little Spanish boy, who agreed to climb after 
the orchid and bring it to me for ten cents. 
He went up lightly enough, then as he cut the 
plant from the tree, it suddenly swarmed with 
black insects. The people who were looking on 
shouted, " Golgas ! golgas ! " and called to the 
boy to come down. He knocked the plant off 
first, and then slid rapidly down the slender 
tree to the ground, blood dripping from one 
hand. As he reached the ground, he said, 
proudly, " I got it, and only one bit me." He 
had a deep cut in the fleshy part of his hand 
below the thumb, which we bound up carefully, 
the men explaining to me that the golga is a 
big ant capable of inflicting such a deep wound 
that a person could be killed by them in a short 
time if a number should get under the clothes. 
Later, when I began to look over the plants, 
one of these fellows ran up my sleeve and started 
vigorous work at once. I caught him on the 
third bite, and I think his jaws must have been 
red-hot, and were developing rapidly to a white 
heat by the time I killed him. From my own 



experience I shall always feel pretty well sat- 
isfied that a number of these ants could do seri- 
ous damage if they all got at it at once. 

On the following day the trail took us 
through a jungle of giant palms, and, to enjoy 
the novel scene undisturbed, I left my pack- 
animals and servants, rode on alone for some 
distance, and then, letting my mule take her 
course, gave myself up to the enjoyment of the 
scene. The giant palms of Central America 
grow from near the ground like great ferns, and 
rise in graceful curves twenty-five to forty feet. 
All other vegetation is shut out, and as one 
passes on great archways of green open in all 
directions, like the aisles of an enormous cathe- 
dral, only these have no end, and blend into one 
another till they form, in the distance, one solid 
wall of green, with the long archways leading 
out to it. In the deep shade of such forests 
many varieties of ferns and wood flowers grow 
in profusion. I rode on, lost in wonder, till, 
suddenly, there came a rustling among the ferns, 
a moment of silence, a rustling a little before 
me ; and then a large animal stepped cautiously 
out on the road perhaps one hundred yards or 
more ahead of me. 



I could see that it was what the Indians call a 
black tiger. It looked at me over its shoulders, 
hesitated for a moment, then faced about sud- 
denly, took a few steps forward, and squatted 
down in the road, its eyes glowing, and its great 
tail beating vigorously from side to side. The 
Indians say if one meets a black tiger, it is kill 
or be killed, and it is said that if one of these 
animals appears near an Indian village the peo- 
ple will desert their houses, and that the Indians 
will never camp for the night where it is sup- 
posed the animals are about. 

On the other hand, professors of zoology in- 
sist that there is no such animal, but as far as 
I am concerned I think I saw one. It was squat- 
ting in the road just in front of me, had a coal- 
black skin, a thin, loose-jointed body, a rather 
heavy tail with a tendency to bush toward the 
end, a square head, small ears, and large, clear, 
yellow eyes. It looked to me more like a pan- 
ther than a jaguar, and yet it was too heavy 
about the shoulders, neck, and head for a pan- 

Naturally, I wanted that animal, and there 
it was, all ready for fight. I drew my pistol, 
the only firearm I had with me, and tried to 



drive the mule nearer, but she didn't appear to 
like it, and began to act silly. I kept her head 
on the animal, which was crouching there jerk- 
ing its tail from side to side with savage vehe- 
mence ; and from time to time seemed to gather 
itself as if for a spring, and then settled back 
again. I was just getting near enough to con- 
sider risking a shot, and was trying to quiet the 
mule, when, suddenly, around the corner my 
pack-train appeared on a full run, the gold pans 
clattering, the peons swearing, a tumult gen- 

The animal raised its head, looked for an in- 
stant, and then with a graceful bound disap- 
peared among the ferns and palm-trees. I was 
disappointed, but I never did have particular 
luck in shooting. 

A day or two more and I reached the little 
city of Truxillo again, having travelled over 
the greater part of Spanish Honduras. 





I AT once began inquiring for a means of 
transportation to Costa Rica, but, alas, there 
was none! The Spanish- American republics, 
though neighbours, are isolated from each other 
for want of steamships, and in many places 
the only route of communication is via the 
United States; and there was now nothing for 
me to do except take a steamer for New Orleans, 
and from there return south to Costa Rica. 

In this trip there was little worth recording. 
On the way to New Orleans the gulf was so 
calm that numerous varieties of marine life 
could be seen darting about, or floating idly 
as the steamer made its way among them; but 
going south again it was rough, and I made 
a bitter enemy of the steward on the little 



steamer by becoming uproariously seasick, and 
spoiling four breakfasts one morning before I 
could retain food comfortably. I have always 
contended that the best remedy for seasickness 
is to eat, and keep on eating until one gets the 
better of it, but it is rough on the steward. 

There were no incidents on this voyage, and 
after four days we were landed at a well-con- 
structed pier at Port Lemon, and I found my- 
self surrounded by civilization and progress 
worthy of any country. 

Costa Rica is so well governed that I found 
scarcely an adventure worth recording. It is 
more an agricultural than a mining country. 
The lands are fertile and well cultivated; there 
are numerous mountains, among them several 
extinct volcanoes, which add to their interest, 
and in the interior there are a number of charm- 
ing cities. San Jose, the capital, is a little 
metropolis, situated in a beautiful upland val- 
ley surrounded by rich coffee estates, and 
flanked by high mountains. The air of the 
uplands is cool and bracing, and the climate 
of San Jose is delightful. The city is scrupu- 
lously clean, and, though there are only about 
twenty-five thousand inhabitants, it is equal to 



any American city of its size, and superior to 
most of them. The people of Costa Rica are 
perhaps not as hospitable as in other Spanish- 
American countries, but their republic is well 
governed, and its resources are under careful 
development ; the people know they have done 
well, and, indeed, are rather proud of themselves 
and their country. As in all well-developed 
countries, the opportunities for business enter- 
prises are not so good as in the rougher por- 
tions of Spanish America, but there is stability 
and security, items of considerable importance 
when figuring up the advantages of a locality. 
Portions of Costa Rica are still inhabited by 
Indian tribes, and I was anxious to visit them; 
particularly so at this time because the mails 
had brought me a commission from the Ameri- 
can Museum of Natural History, and I was 
anxious to secure a series of specimens ; so it 
was with keen interest that I prepared for an 
excursion to the southern jungles of Costa 
Rica, where I hoped to explore the territory 
of the Talamanca Indians. From Port Lemon 
I put out to sea in a little sloop crowded most 
uncomfortably with negro passengers. There 
was scarcely standing-room, but the voyage 



would not be long, so I forced myself to be 
patient. Unfortunately the wind went down, 
and we were a day and a night on that mis- 
erable little boat, at one time tormented by the 
hot sun, at another cowering under a beating 
tropical rain; yet the negroes were always 
cheerful. A negro can adapt himself to any 
surroundings, and be happy, provided he does 
not have to work. For me the voyage was a 
time of sorrows, and I was heartily thankful 
when we at last reached a place called Old Har- 
bour, and I could place my feet on terra firma 
once again. From here I tramped overland a 
few miles to the Silsola River, the boundary 
between Costa Rica and Panama, and from 
there took a canoe, travelling up the river for 
two days to a place called Sipurio, where, tired,^ 
dirty, and rather forlorn-looking, I knocked at 
the gate of a mission station maintained by a 
company of German Paulist Fathers. For- 
tunately one of the fathers was at home, and 
I was immediately made welcome, and for the 
next few days was one of their household; and 
I learned to thoroughly respect the missioners 
who were giving up their lives to serve the In- 



dians, doing their own housework, and main- 
taining themselves as best they could. 

At Sipurio there were two or three rough 
houses besides the mission, all built on a small, 
open savannah surrounded by dense jungles, 
through which a network of streams made their 
way to unite and form the Silsola. Not far 
away were the mountains where many of the 
Indians were living. Their king, I was told, 
lived in the low lands, not far from the mis- 
sion, and I was most anxious to see him. From 
time to time companies of Indians came to see 
me, and then went away again, but the king 
did not come. After I had made the acquaint- 
ance and questionable friendship of a number, 
I told them I wanted to see their king and hold 
conversation with him, and a day or two later 
a tall, fine-looking Indian visited the mission; 
this was Antonio, King of the Talamancas, 
come himself to bid me welcome to his country. 

That he was more than an average man, I 
saw at once. His dress was conventional: a 
suit of blue serge, stout boots, a clean white 
shirt, and a gray felt hat, which he held in 
his hand as he stood there gravely. A man 
who was born to rule, to his people a law, and 



yet on his face an expression of sadness but not 
of dejection; his bearing was that of command. 

We were friends at once. All have met with 
some whom they understood at a glance, and 
whom it would seem had so understood them, 
and so it was between myself and the Indian. 
Gravely Antonio gave me his hand, and said 
he had come to invite me to visit his houses, 
and next day would send men and horses. 
" But," he said, " ours are not like your houses. 
I have been in the cities ; it is better there for 
those who are white men, and here in the woods 
it is better for us who are Indians." I had 
learned not to be eager with the Indians, and 
when I had told him about myself and my coun- 
try, we sat for a time together in silence. Then 
he called his attendant, and, mounting his 
horse, went away, riding slowly over a meadow, 
and then disappeared in the jungles. What 
a grand man, I thought. Yet Antonio, King 
of the Talamancas, has a reputation for un- 
reasoning deviltry and uncontrolled passions 
throughout all Costa Rica. 

That day I could do little; preparations 
were made for my visit, and then nothing re- 
mained but to wait. 





When the sun of the next afternoon hung 
heavy, and from the jungle long shadows began 
reaching over the meadows, three Indians came 
riding to the mission. A few words of wel- 
come, a little advice from the fathers, who were 
somewhat disturbed at my going, and I was 
ready. My guides were fine men, but not nearly 
so large or so strong as Antonio; perhaps he 
was of a more ancient blood, or descended from 
those who in centuries past had conquered the 
men of the woodlands, and, ruling, had kept 
themselves somewhat apart from those who 
served; the difference was marked, and must 
have had causes other than climate or conditions 
of living. 

After travelling an hour or -more through the 
jungles, we came to a clearing and saw a number 



of huts, and further on a great conical building 
like a round tent, but thatched from the ground 
to the peak with palm leaves and straw. Here 
Antonio was waiting with a grave welcome; 
seats were brought for my guides, a hammock 
for me. In the house it was twilight ; at the 
door the bright rays of the sunset ; above us 
the roof was so high it was dark, like a cave ; a 
fire burned low at one side of the house, great 
earthen jars standing near it; many Indians 
were sitting about talking softly or resting in 
silence; yet the house was so large I could dis- 
tinguish only their forms. A shed protected the 
entrance from the rains, and formed an open 
veranda where horses were tied, and the Indians 
gathered at times, though for the greater part 
they sought the deep twilight within their 
strange house. 

For a time we were silent. Antonio, holding 
a staff, his insignia of office, was listening to low, 
earnest voices from men grouped about him. 
They presently finished, and then, at a sign from 
Antonio, women and boys came, passing large 
gourds of chicha. The Indians drank eagerly, 
but for me I would much have preferred to de- 
cline; I knew better, however, and drank about 



a pint or two of the sour stuff, said it was good, 
and asked them for more, and it did me not the 
least bit of good to wish that I hadn't. We sat 
for awhile, then Antonio said we would go to a 
dance for the dead which that night would be 
most impressive. Horses were ordered, and I 
found that my eagerness need not be concealed; 
even the King became animated, and expectant 
Indians were awaiting a signal that they might 
proceed on their way ; rather strange it all 
seemed, a funeral, yet so much expectation of 
pleasure. While we were waiting, I stopped 
to speak to a group of boys who were looking 
at me intently. Among them was a lad of some 
sixteen years who was taller and better appear- 
ing; his face indicated a sensitive nature and 
intelligence of a high order. I asked him his 
name. He looked surprised, and then replied: 
" Me? I am Josecito." This was the heir to the 
King, and no prince could have shown greater 
pride in his rank. Then immediately all was 
forgotten in his eager desire to see the few 
things that I carried, and to hear of the great 
world beyond the deep jungles; and this boy 
would be king, but a ruler of what? Of tribal 
legends and of the influence they brought — 



that is all. Now Antonio came and he and his 
household were ready, a goodly company, who 
conducted me to another large house, where we 
arrived at that time in the tropics when, after 
sunset, night seems to rise out of the jungles. 
Here I found a great number of Indians gath- 
ered together. We were welcomed, but most of 
the people looked strangely at me, and then 
turned to the King with expressions of wonder, 
and soon the leading men had gathered about 
him, all earnestly talking. Then Antonio, rais- 
ing the staff of his office, entered the house, the 
other men following. I went in too, for I 
wished to see all that was done, and my action 
met with approval; a hammock was brought, 
in which I sat watching with interest while 
Antonio, his principal men gathered around him, 
held consultation the same as he had done be- 
fore. The King said little, though he listened 
with care to those who wished to speak with 
him, and then, when all had finished, he raised 
his staff, and in a few words gave his decision. 
Then some of the men came to me with a wel- 
come; the decision had been in my favour, and 
I should see all, and, waiting, made myself pa- 


It was now grown dark, but in the large house 
a fire and numerous torches sent a bright, waver- 
ing light through the midst of the Indians 
and high up above them, till the roof could be 
seen through the masses of smoke which, in the 
damp air, hung heavily drooping. 

Men and boys now came serving out chicha, 
great gourds full, giving me more than enough. 
Then all sat around laughing and talking while 
the night grew about them, and the air became 
heavy with dampness. After some time had 
passed, a deep-toned drum, a musical, resonant 
sound, called for attention; then, to the slow 
measured beatings, four men went to the back 
of the house and stood shoulder to shoulder, 
facing the people and keeping measured time 
with their feet. Then two others joined them; 
these wore crowns of white feathers and carried 
gourd rattles. After a time one other came, 
in his hand a small implement made of hard 
wood which, on being struck, gave a sharp click- 
ing sound; then immediately men and boys 
came to the line, each with a drum — or tambor, 
in the Indian tongue, a word in a measure ex- 
pressive of the sound made when they are beaten 
with the palm of one's hand. In line with the 



dancers, I saw Josecito standing expectant, on 
his head a crown of white feathers, under the 
left arm a tambor; he looked brave and most 
strikingly handsome. 

When the line had been formed, the men who 
first took their places began a weird chant in 
low voices, taken up one after the other, and 
then in unison chanting together; a sound not 
unmusical and something like that of a wind 
sighing among many trees and their branches. 
Then a tremulous sound rose up with the chant- 
ing, as the men with gourd rattles now gave 
them a circular motion, then a sharp clicking 
came, as the Indian who carried the small 
wooden object beat a time on it; with that the 
long line of dancers swayed for a moment and 
then, in a slow, measured step, began to move 
forward and backward, with the tambors stead- 
ily beating, the continued tremulous sound of 
the rattling gourds, the sharp clicking time- 
beat, the drawn-out chant of the singers rising 
and falling in rhythmic, monotonous cadence ; 
a long line of Indians, impressive because they 
were deeply in earnest, parading and chanting 
farewell to their dead. In perfect unison the 
Indians went through the performance, while 



the fire burned low, and the torches, unattended, 
now flickered dimly; but the Indians continued 
steadily forward a step ; a pause ; a step ; back- 
ward a step, a step; gradually gaining a little 
ground forward toward the eastern side of the 
house to which the line was now turned, where 
high above them, rudely fashioned and made 
fast to the thatched side of the house, were three 
packages, bound securely with leaves, the bones 
of their dead awaiting final interment. A long 
time the dance was continued till a place just 
under the dead had been reached. Then the 
chanting became more subdued, the wailing 
notes long drawn out, the tambors, touched 
lightly, gave a soft, mournful sound, and the 
ratthng fell to a whispering murmur, then the 
balancing steps were scarce more than a sway- 
ing, till gradually all became still, stood silent 
an instant, and then, without anything further, 
went quietly back to their various places ; and 
in a few moments boys and young men came 
bringing gourds full of chicha, while in all 
parts of the house subdued voices were heard. 
A long interval, during which some fell asleep, 
then a dance was formed as before, this time 
the King taking the central position, his staff 



in his hand, on his head a crown of white feath- 
ers surmounted by long, brilhant plumes. In 
this dance the motion was slower, the singing 
subdued, but in other respects it was quite the 
same as the first. 

Now it was late, and when this dance had 
been finished I found my eyes heavy; my 
thought was to sit up all night, but the chicha, 
the smoke, the slow, droning music, brought 
sleep to my eyes ; I could not keep awake. The 
King came to me and said in a voice of concern: 
" What, are you sleeping ? My house would 
be better." I roused myself, but presently na- 
ture would claim her due, and as most of the 
Indians were now sleeping soundly, I gave 
up the struggle, and the next thing I knew it 
was morning. A chilly gray light and a damp, 
clinging fog came in through the door, of 
the Indians, some were still sleeping and some 
moving about at various duties. The King came 
to ask me how I had rested, and to say that 
there would be still other dances after the morn- 
ing had grown a little. Then we went to a 
stream near the house, where we washed and pre- 
pared for the day, the King taking charge of 
me with a care almost tender; on his face a 



serious, unmoved expression. Then back to the 
house, more chicha, and with it gourds of boiled 
chocolate, which I was glad to receive, for I 
was now well hungry. 

A deep red glow began rising over the fog; 
the sun would soon come, and the Indians began 
to form for a dance which clearly would be 
something much more elaborate. As before, the 
singers, rattlers, and principal men first took 
their places in a row at the back of the house; 
then at either end of the row other Indians 
placed themselves in line at right angles. Now 
the wailing chant was begun, then the tremulous 
rattling, and after that the sharp, clicking 
sound, and when this commenced three Indians 
bearing a light staff between them came with 
slow steps and stood back of the singers. On 
the staff I noticed three rings tied together and 
made of bark rudely plaited, and I fell to won- 
dering what they might mean ; then a soft beat- 
ing was made on the tambors, and an Indian 
came, in his hand a brilliant red feather, its base 
wrapped in a green leaf, and he took a place 
facing the singers. The Indians holding the 
tambors increased the force of their slow, meas- 
ured beating, till the whole house was full of the 



deep reverberations, mingled with the weird 
chant of the singers, the tremulous rattling, 
and the sharp, clicking sound. Then slowly 
forward and back, as before, went the line of 
singers, musicians, and principal men, but those 
at the sides remained still; the Indian bearing 
the feather went through the same steps in front 
of the singers, moving backward or forward 
as they advanced or retreated, and in the same 
manner and on the same step the three Indians 
bearing the staff came following after. This 
movement for a time was continued ; the tam- 
bors, beating slowly at first, were now touched 
more rapidly, and gradually increased till, with 
sudden energy, the men at the sides broke the 
lines in which they were standing, and in groups 
of four, with shoulder pressed against shoulder, 
began a movement with a long step forward, 
a step to the side, and another step back, all 
in the most perfect order, circling round and 
round the ceremonious dancers, who continued 
steadily on as before. Faster and faster the 
outer dancers beat on their tambors, keeping 
time with their steps, not any one faltering, but 
in companies swept on around and around, till 
the time was set at so rapid a pace that all 


could not keep it; and now each company bent 
every effort to run into and break up the party 
who danced just before them. A game of rare 
skill, the step must never be broken, each group 
pressed on to the next, and in turn was beset by 
the group following after, while in the centre 
the ceremonious dancers, continuing on with 
wailing chant, and its accompaniment of weird 
sounds, were not once disturbed. This required 
real skill from those dancing around them. 
Now all was excitement ; the young men forced 
the dance to their utmost, the women with praise 
or reproach sat eagerly watching. Josecito, 
the young prince, was leading one party, and 
a better dancer could scarce be imagined. As 
the dance continued, one group, then another, 
was run down and forced to one side, till, finally, 
Josecito with his men, and a group of much 
stronger Indians were all who remained, and 
it now became a race of endurance. For a time 
the honours were even, but Josecito was only 
sixteen, those with him nothing but boys ; their 
opponents were older and stronger. The 
younger party grew tired, faltered, lost the 
step, tried to recover, made a bad start, lost 
the step once again, and then, sweeping on, the 



older men passed among them, their line was 
destroyed, and Josecito, red in the face, ran out 
of the house to hide his confusion. The re- 
maining group circled round the ceremonious 
dancers, going gradually slower, till they 
stopped and stood at one side, beating softly 
on their tambors. Then the ceremonious dan- 
cers turned to the remains of their dead, and 
the chant died away in a wailing farewell which 
could not be misunderstood. Then, after stand- 
ing a moment in silence, all returned to their 
places. Josecito looked in at the door, and then 
ran away, as if ashamed of his failure. For 
a time the Indians all rested, then a new dance 
was formed, different again from the others in 
that the women prepared to dance with the men. 
The singers, musicians, and principal men 
stood as they had done before, the chant and 
the step were the same, the accompaniment in 
no way different; but, as the beating of the 
tambors came quicker, the women began to dance 
round and round, as the boys had done, except 
that they danced hand in hand, while the boys 
held their lines by pressing shoulder to shoul- 
der, and keeping the most perfect time in their 
steps. The women gave little attention to time 


and the step, but they danced with an abandon 
of motion which was most attractive. As the 
dance progressed, it became much confused, and 
was pushed rapidly on to its end; then came 
the waiHng farewell, and the Indians returned 
to their seats or stood about talking together. 

More chicha was served, and then the King 
said that, as I had seen all the dances, we would 
go to his house and sit for a time, if I wished. 
Taking leave was of very small moment, the 
same as I had found it among other tribes, and 
even the King was not noticed; we simply 
walked out of the house ; that was all. Shortly 
we arrived at the King's home, and in the deep 
shadowy interior sat at ease resting. Then I 
said : " Don Antonio, why do you dance for 
the dead? I have seen, but I want to know 
what it all means." With an expression of real 
regret on his face, the King shook his head, 
saying : " No, my white visitor, I love you much, 
but the dances they are of the Sukias and the 
Singers. I, as King, know all, truly, but to 
tell or not that belongs only to them. And yet 
why should we keep these secrets? I am not a 
king; as the government commands, so I do; 
our secrets mean little now. For myself I wish 



you to know. A Sukia will come; be patient 
and wait." So we waited and the Sukia came, 
and when he had talked with the King he said, 
gravely, to me : " Why do you want to know 
of our dead, you of a far distant country ; 
what is it to you.^^ " 

I answered, explaining that I was sent by 
the American Museum of Natural History, a 
great palace as big almost as a mountain, where 
records of all the Indians were kept that none 
might be lost or forgotten — a record that 
should be for them, their children, and all peo- 
ple for ever. Then I told of the museum and 
the work it had done; this caught their fancy, 
and when I had talked a long time and answered 
their questions, the King said : " It is good. I 
no longer am King; those who command and 
send soldiers care not at all, and lest everything 
should be forgotten we will tell you. Our word 
is, we will tell you ; your word is, you will keep 
the record for us, for our children and for all 
who may care to know. Were I a king we would 
keep for ourselves our remembrances ; to-day 
our power is gone; to-morrow we may not be 
at all. 

" I, Antonio, am King, the oldest son first 



born of the other King's oldest sister ; so it has 
been always. Not the son of the King, but 
the son of the King's oldest sister, for who 
knows that a son born to the King's women 
might be not of his blood. The people obey 
the King, and next to the King are the Sukias 
— wise men who charm away evil, keep the 
Bugaru (chief evil spirit) from destroying the 
people, and who, with their charms, save the 
sick from the influence of the spirits of evil 
which for ever are seeking to injure the living, 
and all believe in and follow the word of the 
Sukias. The chief Sukia is wise beyond the 
others ; him all fear ; he lives deep in the moun- 
tains and seldom is seen. Even the King has 
fear of him, and before him the Bugaru never 
can stand. 

" After the Sukias are the Becockaras, who 
watch over the food, the fields, and the cattle; 
with them all people consult and find wisdom 
for their planting, their hunting, their going 
away, and their coming again. 

" Apart from all are the Singers, who com- 
mune with the dead, and watch over those who 
have been taken from us. When a man dies 
he is gone, and wants no more of the things 



which were here; and, as he wants them not, 
we in due time make a feast, eating and drink- 
ing. We do not give what he had to his sons 
and his women; in the woods there is plenty, 
and the fields yield enough; if they work, they 
have no want of things which belonged to the 
dead. Let them work and take from the earth 
that which is fresh and good for their lives ; 
but if they care not to work, they are not worthy 
to have. The people who rule tell us this is 
wrong; we do not hold it a wrong. 

" When one is dead, those who are appointed 
to handle the body take it away to the woods ; 
there, bound securely with cloth and with leaves, 
and placed in a house made of poles, the body 
remains for a year, till the sun rises again on 
the day of that life's departure; and if the 
bones are found cleaned by the wind and the 
rain, it is well ; the body is freed from the flesh, 
and can then be taken high in the mountains 
to be buried in the great vaults which were made 
in days so long gone past that none remember 
their making, only we know that there all are 
gathered together ; but before the bones are taken 
away, we dance and rejoice, bcause now they 
are safe, and this we do dancing, drinking, and 



eating till all that belonged to the dead is con- 
sumed. Then the family take up the bones 
and go by themselves to the safe place high 
in the mountains, and when they have laid the 
dead in the vault which is theirs, for each fam- 
ily has one, they leave a few things, that the 
dead may not be in want, or be sent away empty- 
handed; not that we think the things will be 
needed, but only because it has been so always ; 
then the family come home again to the low- 

" The dances you saw were in farewell and 
rejoicing, because those departed were safe. 
The first dance was held for a woman. You saw 
it. She had served the men well, and they 
danced for her who had left them. The second 
dance was for a man, and his companions danced 
in his memory ; you saw the singers in farewell, 
as at first, but with others joining to aid and 
remember. The young men about the singers 
represented the struggles of the life which had 
been and which for them would still be. Behind 
those who sang were three bearing a staff, and 
on the staff was a snake of the lowlands, a type 
of the evil which the dead were now leaving 
behind them for ever; and before those who 



danced and sang in farewell was one bearing a 
feather from a bird of the mountains; and 
dancing he was a spirit, a bird leading and 
calling on to the mountains where the dead were 
to rest and would be safe for ever. 

" The last dance was for a child only ; the 
farewell was the same, but the women to whom 
is confided the care of the children danced round 
about hand in hand in token of life and its 
struggles ; but not in order ; they danced in 
and out among those who sang, for the child's 
life had been broken, and so was their dance. ' 

" This is all ; it is little ; only farewell to the 
dead. Not that they need it, but only that it 
has been so always; it is our custom and it is 
nothing more." 

Then Antonio, the King, stopped talking. 
Beyond the deep shade of his cave-like house 
was the intense burning heat of the tropics ; 
a shimmering of light over the green of the 
jungles ; a wavering of intense heat over the 
grass in the clearing in front of his houses. 
Quietly the cattle and horses were feeding; 
scarce a breath stirred. Antonio the King 
looked over the scene a long time in silence, and 
then said, as if thinking aloud : " For the white 



men the cities, plantations, the ships; for the 
Indians only the forests. Why will they not 
leave us our own? " 

There was much that I wanted to know beside 
what had been told, and I asked the King how 
the dead were finally buried, to which he replied : 
'* There is little ceremony ; the package of bones 
is placed in a hammock and carried to the bury- 
ing-ground in the mountains ; the top of the 
vault is removed, and the dead laid away with 
those who had gone before them; the vault is 
covered again, and by its side we leave a stool 
to sit on, a clay jar for chicha, a cup for drink- 
ing, a gourd, and for each man a bow, arrows, 
hunting-bag, and his walking-staff; for each 
woman a basket. We do not think the dead 
need these things; it is only a custom." 

Would they show me the burying-ground .^^ 
Decidedly they would not, because they knew 
the white men would dig open the vaults and 
take the bones of their dead, an act they all 
feared, the King saying : " That is a curious 
custom of yours. Your people want our dead, 
yet never think of disturbing your own. Why 
do you this? We cannot tell, and do not hear 
your words of excuse." 



Then I said: "Don Antonio, ask them to 
sell me all the things they use in a dance of 
farewell, that I may make a dance for myself." 

"Without the dead? That would be foul," 
and the face of the King wore a grave, anxious 

" But," I urged, " one will die ; let me have 
these things, for the dance is good." 

Then Antonio said : " What harm can it 
do ? " and to the men standing near : " Get 
the things for him, that, knowing all, he may 
even dance for himself if he will." 

Agreements were quickly made, and I was 
promised that in a few days the collection would 
be completed. 

Then the King brought out the regalia and let 
me take the things in my hand. The staff of 
office was of very hard wood, a bird's head carved 
at the top, the throat hollow and containing a 
ball with which a clear, rattling sound could 
be made. The crown was of feathers, a circle of 
white plumes from the eagle, with long red and 
blue tail feathers from the mackaw standing 
erect at the front, while around the base of the 
crown were iridescent feathers, green, red, blue, 
and yellow, cleverly blended together. Around 



his neck were hung seven golden eagles, Identical 
in form with others found among the most 
ancient graves in Costa Rica. He had also a 
string of shell beads like those found in old 
graves, and called pre-Colombian. 

When I had seen the regalia, the King said he 
was obliged to leave me alone for a time, because 
some Indians had called him. 

I went to the hut where I was to live, think- 
ing of all I had seen and wondering by what 
means more could be learned. I was commis- 
sioned to make a collection, and the idea took 
my fancy that the model of a dead Indian, and 
a second model of the bones prepared for the 
dance and final interment would be specimens 
well worth the effort. To prepare the model 
I had only some string and my knife, but In 
the tropics nature Is lavish, and with the aid 
of some of the younger Indians, who appeared 
immensely amused at what I proposed, mate- 
rial was found in abundance. A young Indian 
willingly stood for a model, and after taking 
measurements carefully, I began the construc- 
tion. A gourd served very well for a head; 
a young bushy tree provided a collar-bone, 
spine, and the ribs, which were bent into shape 



with my bits of string. A second gourd care- 
fully cut made a good imitation of thighs, and 
jointed pieces of wood formed the legs, arms, 
feet, and hands. Then the body was padded 
with straw till its appearance became really nat- 
ural, and the young Indians said it was truly a 
" deader." Then I told them that the body was 
my Uncle Gabriel, and that I must have him 
laid out in the woods, because he was dead. The 
men objected, of course, but they yielded after 
a time. Cloth was procured, and the body 
wrapped snugly, and an outer covering of green 
leaves bound securely around it. The bows, 
arrows, staff, cup, and hunting-bag were bound 
together and laid on its right side; a stool was 
brought and placed at its feet, and by the left 
hand was placed a jar for chicha. Then I asked 
them to take up the model and prepare a place 
in the woods where it might stay for a year. 
This they positively refused ; yet I forced them, 
urging, threatening, and commanding. Then 
one said : " This is bad, but we finish. Take 
up your deader and come." We started at once, 
but warning cries of horror and fear came from 
the women. The men stopped, but by some 
influence, I hardly know how, I made them go 


on. In the woods the work was soon done. 
First a little place was cleared in a thicket; 
then poles were laid on the ground, a few leaves 
put over them, and on these the model was 
placed. Around it slender poles were forced 
in the ground, and all bound tightly together, 
forming a cage in which a body would stay a 
long time well secured; about it the staff, bow, 
arrows, and hunting-bag, the stool, and the jar 
for chicha were laid as before; that was all, 
and seemed very little to have required such 
effort. The cage was taken up, the pieces care- 
fully labelled that they might be put together 
again in New York, and the specimens were 
thus carried back to the hut in which I was 
living. On the way we saw frightened women 
run to hide in the King's house, though some 
stood at a distance looking at us with wonder- 
ing caution. 

In regard to the objects used in the dances, 
the King's orders were being obeyed, and all 
the implements were freely brought to me, all 
but the wooden instrument on which the clicking 
sound was made. There was but one in the 
tribe, which had been handed down from time 
immemorial, and no one had any idea of making 



another, but as dances were held without it, 
because it were impossible that the instrument 
should be at the service of all, I did not con- 
sider it of such great importance. I was most 
anxious to secure a model of the bones as pre- 
pared for final interment, and now sat in my 
house planning how this should be done, and 
listening to frightened voices and exclamations 
of anger from Indians in the King's house, 
where they had gathered together. How long 
they continued I do not remember, for when 
evening came I went to my hammock, taking 
my pistol with me as usual, and soon fell asleep, 
leaving my plans and the Indians till morning. 

The next day I found everything quiet again, 
and set to work preparing my skeleton model. 
It was not easy work, for material was scarce. 
The head was a gourd, branches and bits of 
wood formed the bones, a hollow stick cut in 
sections represented the spine, and from a large 
gourd thigh bones were made. Then all were 
laid out on the floor, each bit of wood in the 
place where a bone should have been. The effect 
was so natural that the Indians were frightened ; 
then they became interested, and when I said 
the bones were those of my Uncle Gabriel, re- 



cently dead, and that I must have them pre- 
pared for a dance I would hold in New York, 
they looked at me in wonder, hesitated, and then 
prepared to obey. A cloth was brought, and 
the mimic skull carefully taken, the collar-bones 
were thrust into the opening to hold it in place, 
the ribs were forced through the sections rep- 
resenting the spine, and all were laid on the 
cloth, the skull at the top; then at either side 
they placed the bones of the arms, the bits of 
wood representing the fingers and hands were 
placed in little piles at the base of the arms ; the 
thigh bones were placed where the stomach 
would be, the legs were put in position, at the 
end of each were placed the bits of wood which 
represented the bones of the feet; then the 
cloth was folded over, and the compact little 
package bound tightly with cords; leaves were 
brought from the forest, and the final binding 
was being put on, when a tumult of walling 
and outcry came from the women ; something 
was shouted in a horrified voice, which was im- 
mediately taken up by all of the people. The 
men started back, and, looking at me with 
terror, refused to proceed with the work. I was 
determined to make them, and would not allow 



them to go out of the house. Perhaps they 
feared me more than my model; at any rate, 
after a moment, they turned again to their work, 
and, with faces perspiring and hands that were 
trembhng, they finished it all. I ordered them 
then to prepare a support, and place the model 
on it as if it were there for a dance ; this they 
did, while the women shouted denunciations and 
cried out in fear. When all had been finished, 
two bits of wood, one hard and one soft, in which 
a fire had been kindled by friction, were placed 
under the leaves surrounding the package of 
bones, and the dead was provided with fire. A 
hammock was brought in which the remains 
could be carried; that was all, and then my 
collection was finished. The men hurried away, 
saying that never would they again enter that 
house, which they now held had been cursed. 
The women had all disappeared, and I noticed 
as I packed up my specimens that everywhere 
there was an ominous silence; perhaps my in- 
vestigations would yet cost me dear. In the 
afternoon Josecito came to say that he wanted 
me to sleep at his house. I wanted to go, but 
who would care for my specimens? No, I deter- 
mined that I would remain, and Josecito rode 


slowly away. That evening the women came 
back, but there was no supper for me. I passed 
an anxious night, and yet nothing happened. 
In the morning I gathered my specimens to- 
gether, intending to start for the clearings, 
where the Costa Rican Governor was living, but 
here were new troubles. No Indian would touch 
the evil things I had made, and it was evident 
they did not intend to permit me to take them 
myself. I had no thought of yielding, so a 
contest of wills was begun ; yet for me the time 
was not lost, for I set to work to learn the words 
of their chant, and after getting a fragment 
from one or another I began to have some idea 
of it all. The words were known, but they 
belonged to a language which had been lost, 
and even the singers had no idea of their mean- 
ing. From a drunken Indian who happened 
that way I finally got all the words together, 
after a rather comical experience, in which I 
started a rough singing contest, though I can- 
not claim any voice except one which is at its 
best only when silent; yet it now served the 
purpose, and after awhile the Indian took up 
the singing and began to chant their farewell 
to the dead; the words were repeated over and 



over, and as he sang I set them down as they 
are here: 

K, ah la u ha ma ta ka bi, su na ka bi a ya, 
da shang huan. 

SVr-^:^ J 

" y / 



II J J^ -T :d==i 

H - 

ok u 



VM^ . ta - )•;&, iJc- 

yi 7 J J J ' J" J J J j 




' ■ r - -,■" 

(In the musical notation, as here given, the 
endeavour has been made in the arrangement 
to render the death chant as it sounds when the 
Indians are singing together in discord and in 
irregular time according to their custom. The 



air is the monotone accented chant as it sounds 
when sung by one Indian as a solo.) 

This was an addition to my collection of 
material, but I was no nearer getting away with 
it all. The Indians grinned complacently, and 
even came to look at the specimens, but touch 
them — not for anything. That evening An- 
tonio the King returned, and I thought my 
troubles were over, but I am sorry to say that 
Antonio was very drunk. I was still in his 
favour, and though now all the Indians cowered 
before him, I had nothing to fear. He neither 
approved nor disapproved of my specimens, and 
even apologized for his condition, blaming it 
all on the Christians, as he called the white men, 
who talked so fair but would not trade till they 
had given them drink, and then when the In- 
dians were happy and careless made unfair ex- 
change, and sent them home almost empty 
handed. Then he looked away to the wood- 
lands with sad, drunken eyes, saying over and 
over : " I am not a King, I am not a King, or 
they would not do this." 

Antonio said he could not order the men to 
carry my things; it was theirs to do or not 


- r. 

' ^~ ' ^^1 


, . ^ ''7' 

s 1 

: < 




as they pleased. Only for himself he could 
say I might take them ; that was all he could do. 

That night I sent the Governor a letter, tell- 
ing him of my difficulties and asking his aid, 
and next morning three soldiers with a number 
of mules appeared at my house, much to my 
surprise, and said that the Governor had sent 
them to help me. The Indians looked on in 
amazement and fear, but made no objection; 
then, while the specimens were being packed on 
the mules, Antonio the King came, saying : " I 
ride beside you, and Josecito has gone to ride 
on before you." 

As we went through the jungles in silence, 
we frequently met with bands of armed Indians 
who, on seeing the King, followed, but did me 
no harm, and presently a goodly company had 
gathered together, escorting me on through the 
woods. After a time we stopped, and the King 
said : " I go no further. We are now near the 
Governor, and he is against me." Then, extend- 
ing his hand, he said, as I grasped it : " Good- 
bye, come again; I love you much." Then all 
the Indians left us, and I soon reached the gov- 
ernment buildings, where there was nothing to 
do but to express my deep thanks to the Gov- 



emor, who would not allow me to pay for the 
mules or the soldiers. 

Before leaving that country I met a Sukia 
who had come to the government buildings, and 
to test what I knew of the farewell chant to the 
dead, I sang it for him, and the surprised, angry 
look on his face, as he demanded where I had 
learned it, gave me assurance that I had not 
been misled, and that it was in truth the death 
chant of the Talamancas. 





After a few days I left Sipurio, and spent 
a little time examining the jungles and rub- 
ber forests of Northern Panama. Rubber is 
not so abundant in those regions as formerly, 
but the lands are magnificently rich, the 
streams clear and pleasant, and the mountain- 
sides cool and healthy. Everywhere young rub- 
ber-trees were coming up through the woods, 
and if a system of forestry were established, 
and maintained, all the jungles would soon 
become abundantly productive of rubber; but 
at present the search is so eager, and unre- 
strained, that before a young rubber-tree reaches 
the period of seeding, it is girdled and killed. 
Under such a system, rubber is fast disappear- 
ing from both Costa Rica and Panama. 

After acquiring some lands for the company 



I represented, I returned to Port Lemon, and 
presently took a steamer for Cartagena, Colom- 

The voyage was for two days only, and, 
arriving at the ancient capital of Spain in 
America, I found myself in an interesting old 
city, where the streets were narrow and the 
ancient buildings rich in memories of Spanish 
colonial grandeur ; all enclosed by a great stone 
wall, which in former days made this city the 
impregnable stronghold of the early Spanish 
rulers in America. Cartagena is not large, and 
in a few hours all the points of interest can be 
seen, and, after that, time and the sultry air 
hang heavily. 

For a few days I wandered about the city and 
surrounding country, and then took passage on 
a dilapidated little steam-tug, en route for the 
Darien regions, where I expected to make a 
series of explorations. 

I was impressed with the necessity for re- 
strictions in regard to passenger service in dan- 
gerously weak steamers. In most countries the 
little boat in which I was travelling would have 
been condemned and sold for old junk, but in 
South America she was allowed to go to sea, 



though whether she would ever come back was 
a very serious question. On the way the ma- 
chinery broke down several times, and once or 
twice her position became really dangerous, and 
during the whole voyage the situation was 

We ran pretty well out to sea, though the 
water was quite rough. Once, when the wind 
was at its height, I noticed two white specks 
on the horizon, which seemed to be rapidly ap- 
proaching. Presently I saw that they were 
Indian canoes, nothing but shallow dugouts, yet, 
managed by the Indians, they were skimming 
over the waves like birds, till I wondered at the 
dexterity with which they were handled. 

One afternoon we turned toward the land, 
the captain looking anxiously ahead, and I no- 
ticed that the men, too, were peering at the 
water as if in fear, and I saw one cross himself 
reverently, after the manner of the country. 

I asked him why he did this, and he replied. 
" Because, senor, there are many dead here.'* 

" How so? " I asked. 

" The Needles," he said. " Don't you know 
about them? " 

" No, tell me." 



" They are sunken rocks, with long, sharp 
points, out here for miles northward of Eagle 
Point; but they just show their tips above 
water. Wait and you will see." 

A few moments later there was slight dis- 
turbance in the water, and a wave curled up and 
foamed over. 

" That is one," he said, " but it seldom shows 
itself. There are others further on." 

Presently he pointed and said, " Look there." 
I saw a ripple of foam circling around a wave, 
then suddenly a number of long black points 
seemed to rise up out of the water and stealthily 
disappeared again. 

Then a wave curled up where they had been 
and the water was all quiet once more; then 
they rose up again, as if to menace the ship, 
and then mysteriously disappeared. A bit of 
foam marked the spot for one instant, and the 
sea was calm, without even a sign that there was 
danger. So far as I could see toward the north, 
there were points in the ocean where the waves 
rose up at times, and foamed over, making a 
truly dangerous place. A relieved look in the 
faces of the crew told me when the danger 
was past, and then In about half an hour we 




rounded Eagle Point and were coasting along 
the eastern shore of the Gulf of Darien. 

That night we anchored, for fear of collision 
with drifting logs, and, after the relief of a 
quiet night, made an early start, the captain 
hoping to get his boat over the bar at one o^ 
the numerous mouths of the delta of the Atrato 
River before the tide ran down, though the rise 
and fall was insignificant. As we approached 
the land, a scene of desolation unfolded itself 
to our view. In this country it rains so fre- 
quently that it is always expected, and now 
a steady downpour came falling with disconso- 
late persistence from the leaden skies of the 
morning. Then we ran close to a swampy shore, 
where plants struggled against the encroaching 
waters, and dead trees stood gaunt like skeletons. 

From among the uncertain growth a flood 
of yellow water came pouring, and the next 
instant we bumped up against the bar, slid over 
it, and were in one of the outlets of the delta 
of the Atrato, and then we made our way cau- 
tiously toward the main river. Presently we 
reached it, and the sweeping torrent was a fit- 
ting demonstration of the volume of water which 
can accumulate in a country where a clear day 



is rare, and the sun is considered worthy of 
remark when its rays penetrate the ever-threat- 
ening clouds. 

Progress was slow against such a heavy cur- 
rent, the little steamer made frequent stops to 
take on wood, and we always tied up for the 
night. Frequently, while taking wood, the men 
uncovered snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and 
centipedes ; and their possible presence in the 
wood taken on board was a constant danger, 
yet the men gave little heed. They were careful 
not to touch a snake, but had little regard for 
the poisonous insects, though they were some- 
what cautious if tarantulas were about ; but 
scorpions and centipedes were scarcely noticed. 
At one wood-pile the men called me to see a 
black, or crab-scorpion, as they called it, which 
was, they said, as dangerous as any snake. It 
was a strong, illy-proportioned insect; the claws 
and body were heavy and broad, while the tail 
was short and stubby, looking strangely out of 
proportion. I held it down with the point of 
my machete, and it began to rain blows on the 
blade with its sting till the steel resounded from 
the attack. Then I crushed the ugly thing, and 
found it was incased in a shell, hard almost like 



that of a crab, though the ordinary scorpion is 
soft, with scarcely any protection. The men 
said that these crab-scorpions were rare, and 
sometimes years would pass without one being 
seen; which was fortunate, for otherwise it 
would be a dangerous matter to handle wood 
and produce in that country. 

Our progress was slow, and there was little 
to attract one's attention in the monotonous 
series of mud-banks, swamps, and jungles. 
After a few days' travelling, higher ground 
appeared, and a little further on we came to 
a forlorn-looking city called Quibdo; a little 
town where the native gold-washers come to sell 
their product, and a few merchants do a thriv- 
ing business, trading goods for gold-dust. 
From here I took a canoe two days up the river, 
and established headquarters at a village called 
Lloro, and, on arriving, engaged two faithful 
guides, strong, daring men, who promised to 
go with me anywhere I might desire. Soon I 
learned that their word was good, and that they 
were ready to go wherever I might direct, and 
as to my money, I never gave a thought for 
its care, and didn't lose a cent. 

Yet these splendid specimens of men were 



denounced and excommunicated by the Church, 
and the elder said, when I employed him, 
" There is only one thing : if we meet a priest, 
we must run and hide till he has gone." 

They readily consented to tell me how this 
was. For a long time in that country there had 
been no priests, but one day a number came to 
establish a mission, and within a few months 
had gotten themselves thoroughly hated. The 
people had customs of their own which the 
priests immediately condemned, perhaps not 
without reason. One such custom was a civil 
marriage, or contract before witnesses, which 
had been considered sufficient. The priests said 
this was a sin of heresy and a direct crime 
against ecclesiastical law; and ordered all peo- 
ple to appear before them at once, that they 
might perform the religious ceremony accord- 
ing to the rites of the Church. The people were 
quite willing, as they did not wish to do wrong ; 
but when they were informed that each man on 
his marriage would have to pay sixteen dollars 
they began to doubt the sincerity of the priests ; 
and some people said openly that all the priests 
wanted was the sixteen dollars. Many of the 



people did not have the money, and this brought 
on the trouble. 

My two men had not been married in the 
Church, and considered themselves, their wives, 
and their families entirely respectable, as their 
mothers and fathers had been before them ; and 
the remarkable spectacle was presented of priests 
as persecutors, not as friends and counsellors, 
but as men trying to use the force at their 
command to secure an end. The people did 
not object to the end, only to the price, which 
some of them did not have, and they naturally 
inferred that it was the price, and not the end, 
that the priest was seeking; because, where 
the money was not forthcoming, arrests fol- 
lowed with beating, or other punishment, even 
though the man was quite willing to be married 
according to the ecclesiastical law. 

No doubt it was all a mistake. When a man 
said he had not the money and could not do 
as the priest advised, the priest probably thought 
he refused the rites of the Church, and when 
the priest spoke of a reasonable charge for the 
ceremony, the people, not being accustomed to 
ministrations from the Church, thought the re- 
quirement was for the money only, misunder- 



standings and contention resulting. The only 
inconvenience that I suffered was because of my 
mackintosh, which the people took for a priestly 
garment, and on my arrival at a village where 
I was not known, many of the people took to 
the woods, and valuable time was lost before 
they could be persuaded 'to return. 





From Lloro I started on a series of explora- 
tions, and with my two faithful guides I trav- 
elled for miles among the lowlands and moun- 
tains of the Choco country, a region some three 
hundred miles south of Panama. Many days 
were spent in long canoe voyages up strange 
rivers, where torrents of water went crowding 
and chafing along against their wooded banks. 
It rained frequently, but many days were clear, 
and, secure with faithful guides in an unknown 
country of strange uncertainties, I thoroughly 
enjoyed my explorations. 

Frequently we met other parties in canoes, 
who were all curiosity to learn about my affairs 
and the object of my visit. 

My men always answered that they did not 
know, usually replying, " He's a stranger, go- 



ing here and stopping there, just as he fancies, 
travelling like a crazy man ; perhaps he is one." 
Whether they thought it policy not to tell of 
my examinations in regard to the gold deposits 
of that country, or whether they really thought 
I was not of sound mind, I do not know, but 
their peculiar care of me was perhaps suggest- 

Once when we were on one of the smaller 
rivers, my chief guide, Profanio, called my 
attention to the trunk of a great tree which had 
fallen high above our heads across a ravine. 
It was worn smooth by the feet of animals that 
made it their regular track between the hills, 
and I was told that here, any night, wildcats, 
panthers, and jaguars could be shot as they 
passed across the log. It seemed a pity that I 
could not stay to have a shot at them, but 
I had come for other things, and left the place 
behind me with some regret. 

That same night we camped well up the river, 
having forced the canoe as far as it would go. 
We had to contend for our camp, a rude hut 
built in the woods, with a swarm of red ants, 
and after considerable trouble got the place free 
of them. 



Then we fixed our beds and were soon enjoy- 
ing a thorough rest. I was just dozing off 
when I was awakened by a strange noise in the 
woods, something like the vibrations of a cord 
against a drumhead mingled with a hissing 
sound, at times almost a deep whistle. 

Then I heard an old man who was with us 
say, " Companions, did you hear that? " 

" Yes," said Profanio, in a sleepy voice, " it 
isn't coming here." 

" Don't be too sure. Hark, there it is again." 

" I'm not afraid," was the answer, but I no- 
ticed that Profanio was sitting up, looking anx- 
iously in the direction of the sound. 

" Is the boat where we can make it away 
easily? " said the old man, getting up. 

" Keep still," said Profanio, " or you will 
have it after us." 

" Better see that the Senor is awake, and 
ready, if we have to go." 

Profanio got up softly and said to me, " We 
may have to run for the boat if it comes nearer. 
Are you ready? " 

" Yes," I replied; " what is it? " 

" A barabosa, don't talk," and he went softly 
to his place. 



For a few minutes we heard that strange 
sound a little distance from the camp, and then 
it began to go further away, and finally it was 
lost in the distance. 

" It's gone ; I knew it wasn't coming," said 
Profanio, though I could tell by his voice that 
he was glad of it. 

" It was only for the Senor," said the old 
man ; " he did not know what to do." 

Then I sat up in my hammock and said, 
" Profanio, what is a barabosa ? " 

" A big snake as large around as my arm," 
answered the older guide. 

"Is that all.?" I said. 

" Yes — and it is enough. The bite is so bad 
that none of our remedies can cure it; and if 
it meets a party in the woods it will come and 
fight and certainly bite some one before it is 
killed. It is like a rattlesnake more than any 
other, but has a horn where it ought to have 
rattles. When they threaten to come into camp, 
we usually take to the canoes, but to-night it 
was not angry and did not come." 

It was not long after this when I heard the 
two men sleeping soundly, and after listening 
for awhile to all the strange, murmuring sounds 



of the deep woods, I fell asleep myself, and 
forgot that there was any such thing as a 
barabosa, and even now I am rather doubtful 
about it. 

Another day, while we were going up a larger 
river, the men began telling me of great mon- 
sters, living in a black hole where the water was 
so deep that no one knew how far away the 
bottom was. Both of the men insisted that it 
was true, and said that the animal had been 
seen, and at times they caught smaller specimens. 
They said that to fall into the water where the 
big ones were living was sure death, and that 
several people had been killed by them. 

They called the animal the quicharo, and 
said that it was neither fish nor alligator; that 
they were found from two to even twenty feet 
long, and were remarkable principally for a 
great oval-shaped head and rounded jaws set 
with enormous teeth. That in place of feet it 
had two flippers; that the widest part was just 
back of the head, and that the body tapered 
abruptly to the tail, which was not especially 
prominent. All the upper part of the body, 
they stated, was covered with rough plates, that 
gave it the appearance of a great brown log 



when on rare occasions it was seen floating on 
the surface of the water. The smaller speci- 
mens, they said, were good to eat, but that after 
the plates grew the animal was all soft inside, 
and went to water or soft pulpy material after 
being caught. 

Presently we came to the point where the 
biggest quicharos were said to live. It was a 
strange, mysterious-looking place, a great, 
round pool of dark water surrounded by rocks, 
with rapids just above it. 

I looked over the side of the canoe and won- 
dered what might be the real basis of their be- 
lief in this strange animal ; no doubt something, 
but probably not at all as described. I was 
beyond the reach of the light of modern sci- 
ence, and here the people still believed in their 
fancied creations, and to them the world is still 
peopled with monsters; a mystery must take 
some form of expression, and is gradually built 
up into a figure, perhaps the exaggeration of 
some well-known species. 

I made a great many small inquiries about 
this quicharo, and everybody seemed to know of 
it, and in general the descriptions all agreed 
with the outlines as given; and it may be that 




'^ V'x yy„ ' ' f, ,//V/^' ', '^y 'yy/'/^ 



in the deep pools of water, to the south of the 
swamps of the Darien region, a fish something 
like the sturgeon attains great size. The water 
is cool and fresh, and there is certainly room 
for such development, as the rivers in most 
places are very deep. 

We were on our way to visit some of iie In- 
dians, and shortly after leaving the deep pool 
in which the quicharos are supposed to live, we 
came to a collection of round houses built on 
long posts, according to the usage of the Choco 

We found the place empty, which was a dis- 
appointment, as the houses appeared to belong 
to Indians of the better sort. We went on fur- 
ther up the river and presently came to other 
houses. These were also empty. Still we went 
on ; and turning up a side river came to a large 
house, where the Indians had all gathered, 
drinking guarapo, that is, fermented sugar- 
cane juice. The men were in all stages of in- 
toxication, but, as my guides were well known 
to them, we received a welcome, and my first 
acquaintance with the Choco Indians began. 
They were a handsome people of a rather gentle 
appearance, using little clothing, their bodies 



painted with lines representing various devices; 
their hair arranged in a cue, a small bunch of 
flowers, sweet-smelling gums, barks, or leaves 
tied in the end. These they sniffed at fre- 
quently, putting the end of the cue to their 
nostrils, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. 

It was raining when we came up, and I must 
admit that I was rather dirty, while my face, 
between hot sun and alternate rains and fogs, 
was burnt and blistered to all sorts of colours, 
and I was just considering whether it would 
be better to do something to improve my ap- 
pearance, and, by braving the rain, make my- 
self partially clean and all wet, or to remain 
all dirty and partially dry, when the Indians 
began gathering around me. 

Presently an old chief said, " I hope you 
don't mind that we look at you, Sefior." 

" Not at all," said I ; " why do you want 
to look at me? " 

*' Because we never saw a man like you," the 
chief replied, and the others grunted an assent. 

" But there have been white men through 
here before," I said. 

** Yes, but never like you ; you are perfectly 
beautiful," answered the chief. 



Now an Indian says exactly what he means 
and means what he says, and I began to wish I 
had taken to the river to make myself a little 
more presentable, in spite of the rain. 

Then the chief said, very respectfully, " You 
would perhaps tell us one thing, just one ques- 

*' Certainly," I said, with pride, " what is 

" Do you paint, or is the colour real ? " 

"What colour?" I asked. 

" Why, your nose, Seiior ; it is perfectly 
grand ; we never saw such a colour on any man 

I looked the other way, and then went out 
to see how hard it was raining, fully convinced 
that an Indian is a fool by nature, and that 
nothing can make him different. 

The next day I determined to go further up 
the river, the Mombaramombarado, by which 
we were stopping, and make a general examina- 
tion as I went. I told my man, Profanio, what 
I wanted. 

" Rather dangerous," he said ; " you had bet- 
ter not try it ; but, if you wish it, I am ready.*' 

" I do wish it," I said. 



" Then I will fix the boat at once. We can 
take one of the Indians, and when he says it 
is time to come back, we must." 

" Very well, I will leave that to you, but I 
wish to go as far as possible," I answered. 
Without any more words we started. The river 
certainly was rough, and a number of times I 
thought we had reached the limit, but still we 
pushed on; frequently the Indian hesitated, 
but Profanio urged him on, till at last the In- 
dian, pointing to a black cloud up the river, 
said, " Rain, flood. No more ! Back ! Quick, 
too ! " We went around in an instant, and 
sweeping down with an ever-increasing current. 
The river rose alarmingly, and the roaring of 
the rapids was constantly increasing. 

The Indian said, " We will get below the 
big rapids before the flood is high, and we will 
be — " but just then the pole held by Pro- 
fanio was caught between two sunken rocks, 
while he was pushing the boat over to a smoother 
place in order to avoid a dangerous rapid. The 
force of the current was such, as the boat 
jammed against the pole, that Profanio turned 
a somersault over into the deepest rapid, and 
the Indian went head over heels backward. The 



canoe gave a great lurch, filled with water, and 
almost turned over, and then, sinking like a 
water-logged timber, swung around and started 
on a mad rush down the rapids, I clinging to 
my seat keeping the canoe right side up, though 
it was entirely under water. Another instant 
and I would have been swept into the heaviest 
rapids, but just then a large, black hand rose 
out of the boiling water, a second it struggled, 
partially sank, the muscles tightened in a final 
effort, and my man's head rose out of the water. 
He caught the side of the boat and then, with 
an exhibition of muscular strength and skill 
in swimming which could scarcely be excelled, 
he kept the boat in position, though it was 
under water, and actually guided it safely down 
all that fierce rapid, and brought it into a quiet 
place, where I scrambled out on the rocks, say- 
ing, " Well, you are the greatest swimmer I 
ever saw." 

" Yes, perhaps," he said, " but you sat still, 
and so it was easy enough." I really sat still 
because I was about paralyzed with fright; but 
I didn't say anything. There was no reason 
why I should tell him, anyway. The Indian 
had saved himself, and, righting the canoe, we 



went on down the river, reached the Indian 
houses without further trouble, though by this 
time the water was well up. I had lost some 
valuable instruments, but had reason to be thank- 
ful that I came out of the accident alive. 

We did not stop for the night with the In- 
dians, but taking our big canoe, we were soon 
flying down the River Mombaramombarado, and 
out into the Capa River, and on down to a Span- 
iard's house, where we stopped for the night. 

I visited a number of places in the Choco 
country, accompanied by my faithful guides, 
but there were no further adventures, and a 
little later I left their country, going out by 
way of the Pacific. 





It may not be generally known that in West- 
ern Colombia there is an almost continuous 
waterway available for canoe traffic from the 
Caribbean to the Pacific, The route is from 
the Gulf of Darien up the Atrato River to the 
Quito River, up the Quito to its headwaters, in 
a series of swamps and wet places, where a 
canoe can be forced across in rainy weather, to 
the headwaters of the San Pablo River, down the 
San Pablo to the San Juan River, and thence 
via the San Juan to the Pacific. This route 
is not always open, and on reaching the head- 
waters of the Quito a short portage is generally 
made to the San Juan River. 

After my examinations in the Choco country, 
I travelled toward the Pacific, crossing the upper 



divide, where the mountains are higher than 
those at the Quito portage, and I was some 
hours on the trail. 

While going through the woods, one of my 
men suddenly cried out in pain, and said that 
he had been stung by a congo-ant. His arm 
swelled up and appeared very painful for some 
hours, and he told me that the sting of these 
ants was as bad and often as dangerous as a 
sting from a large scorpion. As we went 
through the woods, I had every opportunity 
of examining these ugly fellows, which are 
really wingless wasps. 

They are black, about one to two inches long, 
with jaws like ordinary ants, and with these 
they take hold on the flesh, and then begin a 
regular thrashing with a long, sharp sting 
placed like that of a wasp, using it so vigor- 
ously that many ugly wounds are inflicted be- 
fore they can be killed; at other times they 
keep up a running fire, going rapidly from 
place to place, and doing damage all the time 
without stopping to take hold. 

They have a bad temper, and no sooner are 
the trees or bushes disturbed where they are 
living than they come swarming along the 


Caribbean Sea 


twigs as mad as hornets, to get at whatever or 
whoever had stirred them up. For this habit 
they are much dreaded, and there are places 
where it is said one cannot go in the woods with- 
out being stung. 

There is a smaller red ant reported in this 
country, called the castinette, which is said to 
sting harder and inflict more serious wounds 
than the congo-ants; but I have never seen 
them and cannot say for myself. 

We were delayed some time attending the man 
who had been stung, and were late reaching the 
canoe on the San Juan, or rather on a stream 
leading to the San Juan, and we could not 
finish our day's journey, but slept at a little 
village called Carmela, and early next morning 
started on our way again. The upper part of 
this river is always dangerous. It passes with 
great velocity through a narrow gorge, and 
the tumult of the waters is appalling, not a 
tumult of waves and breakers, for the channel 
is of unknown depth, but a tumult of deep, 
ominous sounds as the canoe goes sweeping on 
among the rocks. Great upheavals of water rise 
and fall; at times a mass of water, crowded 
to the surface in the narrow gorge, will pour 



itself out over the water with frightful violence ; 
at other points whirlpools are formed, and the 
surface of the river is constantly changing, but 
not the change of tumbling waters passing rap- 
idly down a steep incline. The channel of the 
San Juan is almost at the sea-level, and but 
little inclined; the masses of water crowd for- 
ward as if impelled by a great force, a pressing 
onward rather than a falling. 

As our canoe went sweeping on over these 
treacherous waters, we would at times feel a 
tremor run through it like a human shudder; 
then, forcing itself up all around us, would 
come a great upheaval of water, threatening to 
throw the canoe over into the seething mass. 
The men told me that once in that water there 
was no chance for escape, that one would cer- 
tainly be sucked under, never to be seen again^ 
or else would be beaten to death by the force 
of the waves. Once, as we were passing over a 
comparatively quiet place, a sudden commotion 
of water rose around us, and for a time the 
waves threatened to wreck the canoe, but skilful 
handling by the men saved it, and we escaped 
with a wetting and a severe fright. At such 
a time one could hardly help being overawed 



in the presence of a mighty force so near that 
one could feel its every tremor. 

We arrived at San Pablo without incident, 
and I at once began looking for an opportunity 
to go to the Pacific. I found little prospect 
of starting, and secured a room, where I made 
preparations to stay for a few days. That 
night I prepared for bed, hoping that place 
was clean, but inwardly mistrusting my sur- 
roundings. I took my pistol and placed it 
within easy reach, and then lay down. How 
often I have done this in a strange place, and 
then gone quietly to sleep, not knowing when 
I might be awakened by some approaching dan- 
ger. I have become so used to my pistol that 
sometimes even when at home I take it to bed 
with me just for companion's sake. 

That night nothing happened, that is, not 
that I was conscious of; but in the morning I 
found myself covered with numerous red marks 
about two millimetres in diameter. They were 
filled with blood and watery matter and itched 
and burned considerably. It was my first ex- 
perience with chinch-bugs. They are abundant 
in the Choco country, but I had never felt them 
till now. I had a full allowance and found them 



troublesome enough, fortunately nothing more. 
The bites of the chinch-bug are sometimes really 
serious, and frequently they inflame to ugly 
running sores, from which blood-poisoning has 

The chinch-bug looks like an exaggerated 
edition of the well-known bedbug. It lives very 
much like the northern insect, though, being 
larger and stronger, wanders about more freely. 

A chinch-bug lives for a considerable time, 
and is truly dangerous, because it carries infec- 
tion from one person to another, and in a country 
infested with the most frightful skin diseases, 
with leprosy, and all the evils of hereditary 
afflictions, these chinch-bugs are a terror, and 
I have more fear of them than any of the other 
dangers with which a traveller in the tropics 
must contend. 

Between the annoyance of the chinch-bugs' 
bites and the prospect of some days' delay, I 
was feeling quite miserable, when I was sud- 
denly, most agreeably, surprised at finding that 
one of the merchants of San Pablo had made 
all arrangements for me, and that I was to start 
at once with a young man who was to take 
charge of the boat. I found him prompt and 



apparently efficient in carrying out the mer- 
chant's directions, so I felt satisfied that I was 
to be in good hands. We were soon ready, and, 
as there was some trouble about securing assist- 
ants, the young man said that he would take 
the boat on alone, rather than delay any fur- 
ther, and find men along the river. This 
sounded like good business, and off we went. 

A short distance below San Pablo we came 
to a group of houses. The young captain of the 
canoe hurried on shore, as I thought, to look 
for men; but, to my surprise, he went to the 
door of the nearest house, dropped on his knees, 
and began to pray in a loud voice, reciting in 
a singsong manner some form of litany, peti- 
tioning for blessings, to which the women of the 
house responded, looking on him with great 
respect. He went to all the houses and did the 
same thing, then he hurried back to the canoe, 
looking very important, started across the river 
to three other houses, and went through the 
praying exhibition again. 

This took time, and when he started for the 
next group of houses I protested; he paid no 
attention, however, but went through his pray- 
ers with great vigour, and, returning to the 



canoe, gave me a look of mingled pity and de- 
fiance, and immediately started the canoe toward 
a group of houses further down the river, look- 
ing at them eagerly as he plied the paddle. 

I told him that I would have no more praying, 
and, if he did it again, I would send him back 
to the merchant, and he knew what the result 
would be. 

He seemed grieved, but I explained that I was 
in a great hurry and could not give him the time. 

He said nothing, but, taking the boat close to 
shore, shouted to the people, " I can't come to 
pray blessings for you; the patron is not a 
Christian, and won't allow it." 

A little farther down we stopped at a house 
where my man said he would look for compan- 
ions. The women were at home, and I am sorry 
to say they were drunk, and, worse yet, my man 
spouted his prayers and immediately started in 
to drink from a plentiful supply of rum. 

It was raining hard, but then it always rains 
in this country, and I was determined to push 
on ; so I took the rum away from him by force, 
and ordered him out to look for men. He went 
somewhat reluctantly, but I managed to hurry 
him up a little by showing him my pistol, and 



asking if he knew what it was for. He went 
along then, and presently came back with some 
young men who proved to be his brothers, and 
then the united families became solicitous that 
I should stay all night, in fact, so anxious and so 
curious about my things that I was satisfied that 
it would be better to start at once and save 
losses; so after considerable force and persua- 
sion, I prevailed on the men to start that after- 
noon, though the females were lamenting over 
the loss of expected presents. 

We got along well enough after this, and at 
nightfall stopped to sleep at a group of houses ; 
here the young man said a lot of prayers and 
appeared contented. Making the best of a bad 
thing, I got a table to sleep on, while my men 
amused themselves talking with a number of 
canoe-owners, who, in going up or down the 
river, had all stopped here for the night. 

I caught more chinch-bugs while I slept, and, 
as they were making me very uncomfortable, 
especially toward morning, I got the men up 
and made them go on. 

By noon we had reached still water, and then 
the men lay back on their seats and began lazily 
to go to sleep. I angrily ordered them to go 



on, but they paid no attention, and presently 
told me that they proposed to drift with the 
current, and we would go down the river after a 
time. Words seemed useless, and it would not 
have done any good to have killed them, for 
then I would have been worse off. I threatened 
for a time, and they began to paddle, but not 
for long; and presently my praying servant 
said, coolly, " If you will pay us more, we will 
work and take you to Buenaventara in good 
time. How much more will you add to our 

" A forty-four of good lead," I replied, " if 
you are not careful." 

They worked a little after that, but we made 
poor progress, and at times scarcely moved at 
all. It was most uncomfortable, and if I hap- 
pened to want anything, the first words were, 
" How much are you going to advance the pay 
if I doit?" 

In this way we went on till one afternoon I 
noticed that the boat stood still, and then began 
to move backward. I called to the men, who 
were sleeping on their paddles. They looked 
at me and then at the water and said, " The tide 
is rising ; we have reached the sea." 



I was delighted, thinking that I was near the 
end of my journey, but I was mistaken; we 
turned up a river called the Colima, where we 
slept for a part of the night, and then pushed 
on to a brook called the Guineo. Here we 
stopped for another night, and then trouble 
began. The men positively refused to go on, 
fearing that when they reached Buenaventara 
they would be taken and forced into the army. 
There was a revolution in Colombia, and nobody 
knew what the outcome was to be. In vain I 
threatened, even promising to denounce them 
before the Alcalde ; they only replied it was bet- 
ter to suffer at home than be forced Into the 

There were no other men to be found any- 
where, and so I had to give in and offer them 
increased pay; and to make it more secure, 
I bought each of them permission from the Al- 
calde fo go to Buenaventara and return free 
from military service; and I promised to give 
them each five silver dollars advance on their 
wages if they put me in Buenaventara in one 
day; this they said could be done easily, and 
so, taking a small canoe for the trip up the 
Guineo, and hiring another man to be sure that 



we could have enough to carry my things across 
the divide, we started on. 

The brook was very low, and we had difficulty 
making our way around the sharp corners, under 
fallen logs, or along the overhanging banks. 
It was a wilderness of trees, plants, and coarse 
flowers, a typical forest of the tropical low- 

At last we came to the divide, and started 
across it, not a great distance, and, as I hired 
some men who happened that way to take part 
of my things, we made good time. We arrived 
about two p. M. at the hut where belated trav- 
ellers stopped for the night. Here a caretaker 
had canoes for rent, which were needed for only 
half a day, and cost more than is paid for all 
the route I had just passed over; but then I had 
to have one, and the caretaker fixed the price 
to suit the necessity. 

My men wanted to stop for the night, but 
I reminded them that I had agreed to pay each 
five dollars extra provided they put me in 
Buenaventara that day. They could rest, but 
only at their own expense. 

They protested that they were tired, that the 
way had been long and hard, and many other 



things. I had no sympathy, so they decided to 
go on. I had them this time, and how they did 
work and curse; it was a great satisfaction to 
see them, and they could work if they wanted to. 
They were anxious about the tide. If it were 
favourable, they would not have a very hard 
time, but we had not gone much farther down 
the stream when we came to a stretch of quiet 
water; then the current began to set against us, 
slowly at first, but with ever-increasing strength, 
till presently, though we were miles away from 
the ocean, an irresistible flood of water came 
sweeping up the creek, rising, rising, till a great 
lake began to form among the trees around us. 
The men had to work now, but I cared little 
for them, though I was well anxious about 
getting to Buenaventara before night set in. 

We presently came out into a broad sheet of 
quiet water that looked black and forbidding. 
My men told me that it was tremendously deep, 
and that once in that water there was no escape, 
because of the multitudes of sharks. 

We now began to pick our way through broad 
channels and between islands, where mangroves 
and palm-trees were growing in abundance. 

The men did well here, and got through suc- 



cessfully without losing the way. To lose one's 
way among those islands means wandering in a 
labyrinth from which it would be difficult to 

By this time darkness was setting in, and the 
men said we would stop for the night at a shed 
made of leaves that was just beyond us. 

I said we would not, and ordered them to 
go on. They stopped paddling and considered. 
I ordered them on a second time. Then one of 
them said, with a curse, " Let us do it now, 
throw him out of the boat and see the sharks 
eat him, and then do as we please, and have all 
his things, too." 

" And my pistol," I said, " it is ready at my 
side awaiting for you." 

He said nothing. " Now," I said, " go right 
on, or the sharks will have some dead meat pres- 

They went on, and after a time we came 
within sight of what appeared to be the lights 
of Buenaventara, but as yet a long way off 
across the water. 

Then we noticed that the lights seemed to be 
coming nearer, and rapidly, too. What could 
it mean? Then a whisper went from one to the 



other of my men, " A military expedition, — if 
they find us, we are lost." 

Quick as a thought the canoe was turned to 
one side, the men, working now with all their 
might, paddling for an island that was not far 

On came the boats below us, the lights grow- 
ing brighter, yet seeming to stand still on the 
dark water. We gained the island and hid 
under the overhanging branches. Two or three 
boats went past us. Then the men were ready 
to go on again, and began paddling cautiously 
along the island. Presently we saw other lights, 
and could tell that the canoes were moving 
about, and that one was coming directly in 
toward us. 

" They are searching the islands," said one of 
the men ; " it is all up with us." 

Then they made a dash over the side of the 
canoe for the land, and, scrambling up among 
the bushes, disappeared in the thick underbrush, 
and I was left alone, — truly a pleasant situ- 

For a time I waited, expecting every minute 
to see a light coming cautiously around the 
corner, probably to be followed by a volley from 



the muskets of the soldiers, and a demand for 
surrender. Most likely I would not be hit, but 
a searching party, expecting to meet an enemy, 
would, on coming across a canoe hidden under 
the trees, almost certainly fire, and perhaps do 
serious damage. 

I sat there waiting, intending to call out that 
I was an American lost among the islands, and 
ask them for help, before they could fire; but 
it made me feel anxious, and, as I sat there, I 
wished heartily that whatever might be coming 
tvould come quickly. But it didn't, and after 
waiting for a time I called to my men, and a 
voice came from the woods pleading that I would 
be quiet, — the soldiers were on the other side 
of the island, and if I spoke would be on us 
in an instant. Then I sat waiting for a few 
minutes, but nothing came, and I called to my 
men, telling them to come at once, and, if they 
did not, I would fire my pistol to attract the 
soldiers, and when they came I would tell where 
to look for fugitives. A groan from the woods 
was the only answer. " Come now," I said, 
taking out my pistol and cocking it, " come, 
or I'll shoot." 

Then I heard the men coming, and soon they 



were in the boat, with wild looks of fear and 
reproachful words for my cruelty. I ordered 
the cowards on, and we soon left the soldiers 
behind us. Presently we came to a brilliantly 
lighted house, where we stopped for the night, 
as it was now too late to go over to Buenaven- 
tara. The owners of the house made me wel- 
come, and gave me a place to hang my ham- 
mock, telling me I was fortunate to have es- 
caped the soldiers, who were out looking for a 
party of revolutionists supposed to be hiding 
among the islands. 

I was fortunate in many ways. I was out of 
the hands of my rascally men, was in sight of 
Buenaventara, and just as I was getting in my 
hammock the rain came on, a torrent of water 
that was almost beyond belief, and, well satis- 
fied that I had a roof over my head, I presently 
fell asleep and rested thoroughly till the morn- 

I had now nothing to do but cross the bay, 
and reach the highway of travel again. At 
Buenaventara I found fair accommodations, 
and passed a week while waiting for a steamer. 

My men were allowed to go unpunished, 
though I could have given them a good lesson, 



because, when I told of my unpleasant experi- 
ence, the authorities were anxious to punish them 
severely, but I had given my word that I would 
not have them punished if they took me on, and 
that was enough ; they were allowed to go free. 





We drew in sight of Panama City after two 
days, and as we sailed into the anchorage I found 
that the most notable among the ships were two 
steamers flying the Chilian flag, attesting the 
progress and energy of that far-away republic, 
from whose shores the finest steamers at Panama 
had come; ships which one day or other, when 
the canal is opened, will be trading even to our 
Atlantic seaports. 

The water off^ Panama was not very attract- 
ive, and had an uncertain colour of mud and 
seaweed, such as one might notice among shal- 
low lagoons of the North. Off* the harbour were 
groups of rather barren-looking islands, and 
on either side of the city the low shores of the 
Isthmus lay flat and uninviting. To the north 



we saw low mountains, and to the south distant 
ranges of somewhat greater elevation. 

When we arrived at our anchorage the tide 
was out, and extensive mud-flats and coral rocks 
barred the way to the city. After a time, the 
mighty flood of the tides in the Pacific turned, 
setting in toward the land, and presently a num- 
ber of barges came out to the steamer. Our 
baggage was dumped into the largest with but 
little ceremony, and we scrambled after it, a 
strange company of passengers, — Spanish- 
Americans of good position, now tumbled and 
dirty from the efl^ects of seasickness, too much 
depressed to care how they looked ; negro la- 
bourers with their wives and children, all con- 
tented and happy, too careless to even think 
of their clothes; stolid Indians serving their 
masters, their indiff*erence a sharp contrast to 
the eagerness of the others ; a group of Chi- 
nese, chattering together, their excitement tell- 
ing of their interest ; and a number of Americans 
from the North, thinking they ought to be 
given precedence in such a company, and not 
getting it. 

On reaching the docks we hurried out of the 
barges, and were immediately surrounded by 



would-be servitors. We were in the land of 
sharks, both water and land sharks ; the Span- 
iards knew how to treat them, cursed the sharks, 
gave their baggage to their servants, and 
marched off. I liked that proceeding, and so 
cursed the sharks myself; they fell back; but 
I had no servant, and sat down on my baggage 
while the sharks looked on from a respectful 
distance. Then they laughed at me; so did 
I, — what else could be done ? I was caught, 
and it was better to laugh than to scold. The 
sharks took the hint, rushed in, and the next 
instant a straggling parade set out for the 
hotel, — baggage, specimen-cases, personal ef- 
fects, — all carried by a rough company of 
porters, while a crowd of small boys brought 
up the rear, struggling among themselves for 
the honour of carrying an old newspaper and 
my umbrella. It was not good for the news- 
paper, and my umbrella was of no further use 
after they had finished with it. We reached 
the hotel, and I paid up. When all was settled, 
I did not have any money to spend in Panama 
that night. Then a little boy came gravely in, 
bringing me a bit of paper, for the carriage of 
which from the dock to the hotel he now de- 


manded payment. I gave him a trifle, to re- 
ward his splendid effrontery; he ran out, and 
immediately another boy appeared, he, too, 
bringing me a bit of newspaper. Unfortu- 
nately newspaper is plenty, and so are boys. 
I saw I was up against it, and fled ignominiously 
to my room. Panama was too much for me. 

The day following I was out early, looking 
about the city, a place where there was not much 
of interest. The sun was burning hot, the air 
damp, and even the walls of the buildings 
seemed to be perspiring. I found the streets 
full of people, and everywhere there was a sense 
of activity, diff^erent from what one usually ex- 
pects in a Spanish- American city. There were 
many little shops where curios were off*ered to 
tempt travellers ; all the specimens, I was sol- 
emnly assured, came from the country, or from 
the ocean near Panama, the great variety attest- 
ing the diversity of the soils and the products 
of the Isthmus. I found cheap Mexican opals, 
such as I have purchased in New York at three 
dollars per hundred, here off^ered for three dol- 
lars each, and called Panama stones; there 
were gypsum (selenite) heads from Canada, 
called here country pearls; there were Indian 



curios from Birmingham, England; fancy arti- 
cles from Connecticut; in fact, material from 
all parts of the world, which travellers, as they 
hurried through the city, bought at extrava- 
gant prices, under the assurance that they were 
obtaining rare specimens of the varied prod- 
ucts of the Isthmus of Panama. For myself, 
I did not buy, and became unpopular at once, 
but it was interesting to watch the shopkeepers 
do the travellers, and they certainly were an 
easy lot ; but then, they wanted to secure sou- 
venirs of Panama, and took kindly to curios 
from Birmingham and other places, and did 
not really object to paying from ten to one 
hundred times the value for their purchases; 
but then, the specimens all came from the Isth- 
mus, at least so the travellers thought, and all 
were happy, even the shopkeepers. 

Panama lives on the travellers ; so it has been 
for years, so it always will be, unless the canal 
should be lost to the Isthmus; which all who 
know the disputed routes sincerely hope will not 
be the case, for the advantages of the Panama 
route are clear and convincing. But what a 
fine time the sharks will have when once the 
work is established. 



These same sharks now gathered about me, 
offering all sorts of specimens, or urging unre- 
quired services. I soon tired of it all; there 
was nothing of real interest in the city, so I 
took one of the slow trains across the Isthmus 
for Colon, hoping to have a good view of the 
canal workings. There was not much to be seen, 
however; only surface work had been done, 
though much earth had been removed, and 
the whole length of the canal was clearly de- 
fined, — a great ditch extending almost across 
the Isthmus, and at some places opened to con- 
siderable depth. Not much work was being 
done, though a little digging was in progress. 
The splendid machinery all along the route 
attested the millions which had been spent, and 
the fact that most of the machinery remained 
without care, exposed to the damp, destructive 
climate of Panama, was evidence of the careless 
methods which mark all that has been done on 
the canal up to the present time. 

Crossing the Isthmus even on a slow train 
does not take very long. On the way there 
were not any attractive places, and everywhere 
one notices the marks of the beaten track, and 
surely no route is more frequented than that of 



Panama. From the car window one sees low 
hills, where the forests have been cut down, and 
the tangled growth of shrub, climbing vines, 
trees and palms has taken their place; a 
tangled, matted growth, struggling, as it were, 
among themselves for the mastery, the whole 
clinging and dragging each on the other, and 
not attaining the sublimity of the primeval for- 
ests of the tropics. The stations where one 
stops are small, and there is little of interest; 
the people are a patchwork of cast-off clothing, 
remnants of the passing crowd of travellers. 
There is little of real interest, and when one 
reaches Colon it is with a feeling of relief, for 
the ride has not been very comfortable, and the 
country has been disappointing ; one has crossed 
Panama, but one has not seen the grandeur of 
the American tropics. 

At Colon the question of reaching a hotel 
with all one's baggage, and at least a part of 
one's money, is of serious importance. Here 
the sharks are mostly black, and when I left 
the train they looked me over and prepared for 
bloodletting, but I was ready for them this time ; 
specimen-cases and baggage were checked at 
the station, and I retained only three hand-bags, 



containing what I would need during my brief 
stay on the Isthmus. The black men were dis- 
appointed, and urged long and earnestly the 
danger of leaving my effects with the railway 
and steamship agent; but I had some use for 
what silver I carried, and so left my things. I 
allowed a big negro to put my things on a hand- 
truck, and take them three blocks to a hotel. I 
expected to stand twenty-five cents gold for 
each bag, a total of about two dollars and forty 
cents in their silver, or at the rate of some 
eighty cents silver per minute for his services ; 
but on arriving at the hotel, he demanded three 
dollars gold, about three dollars and twenty 
cents per minute in his money. This did seem 
to be rubbing it in too hard, but I gave him 
half of what he claimed, and told him if he 
wanted the balance he should make an appeal 
to the Alcalde, the head magistrate of the town. 
This he did, with all assurance, and I had a 
small lawsuit on my hands, a circumstance in 
which I found considerable interest, for I wished 
to see how the baggage-sharks were treated. 
The Alcalde gave little heed to what I had to 
say; the negroes were threatening, and quite a 
crowd had collected, and the Alcalde was evi- 



dently afraid of them, for he gave a hasty 
decision in their favour, and directed that I 
should pay the money immediately. I had given 
them half of what they claimed, and now offered 
to pay the balance, but no, they must have the 
whole amount which had been awarded to them; 
and so a second dispute arose, and I was ordered 
to pay the whole claim, and I did so, feeling 
rather indignant at this example of " justice " 
on the Isthmus of Panama; but I was through 
with the sharks, for a time at least, and now 
went about my own affairs. 

Colon is a city of sheds and board houses. 
There is one main street where there are a few 
large stores ; the city has several side streets 
where the houses are on stilts, and just beyond 
the city there are swamps, where mosquitoes 
reign supreme. 

Bloodletting is the common practice, from the 
mosquitoes which infest the air to the children 
who seek contributions in the streets, the bag- 
gage-sharks who haunt the stations and wharves, 
and even to the leading merchants, who sell 
spurious curiosities, and smilingly do the trav- 
ellers for what can be obtained. Also the watch- 



ful officials, ever on the lookout for the main 

All this is typical of the lowlands of tropical 
America. In the mountain parts it is frequently 
different; an incident will illustrate. Once, 
when I was stopping at Madellin, in Colombia, 
a little bootblack made himself useful, and re- 
ceived fairly liberal tips for running errands 
and generally guarding my interests, as well as 
keeping my shoes clean. One evening, as I was 
going to dinner, he came running up to me, a 
broad smile on his face, and in his hand three 
cactus figs rolled up in a bit of paper. The 
package was thrust into my hand, and the boy 
started for the door, as if he were in a hurry 
to get away. I called him, so that I might give 
some little gratuity, but he only shouted back, 
" No, no, they are not for money ; they are for 
you," and then he bolted out the door and was 
away in the streets. At dinner I was told that 
the fruit was really choice, and long out of 
season, and every one wondered that the boy had 
found some, saying that he must have climbed 
for hours among the mountains trying to obtain 
them. This happened in the breezy interior 
uplands among the mountains, where a race of 



people is growing up strong in body, of healthy 
morals, an honour to themselves now, and who 
will one day become a power in the world. They 
are different indeed from the cringing, swin- 
dling, unhealthy, mixed-breed weaklings of the 
lowlands, people who cause our ideas to be some- 
what unfavourable in regard to everything 
Spanish- American. 

Here at Colon I found the usual population 
of the coast, their dispositions somewhat more 
unpleasant than usual, with their clutch at one's 
purse-strings for ever grasping and impulsive. 





I FOUND at Panama a rich country, where 
agricultural opportunities are attractive and 
mineral wealth is abundant. 

Panama is everywhere accessible to the water, 
and as a consequence the principal roads are 
to the coast, and little trading-ships are numer- 
ous, for the ways of communication are princi- 
pally by water. Wherever a stream is found 
available for canoes, they are used, though, 
except on the Silsola River, on the northern 
boundary, and on the streams about the Chiri- 
qui Lagoon, there is but little canoe travel. 

Panama is reputed the most unhealthy of all 
places in the American tropics, a natural infer- 
ence because the route of travel has sought the 
lowest divide for crossing the Isthmus, and low 
lands in the tropics are unhealthy; particularly 



where there are swamps, as at Colon, and great 
exposures of marine drift when the tide falls, as 
at Panama City. These places are unhealthy, 
and their reputation is well deserved, but after 
leaving the depressions between the two sea- 
ports one finds a better country, where the lands 
are rich, and the climate reasonably favourable. 
The Chiriqui Lagoon is considered a health re- 
sort, and among the interior mountains I have 
found many desirable regions, though the ele- 
vations are rather abrupt, because the rock 
formations disintegrate easily, and erosion has 
been rapid; hence one finds steep mountain- 
sides, deep valleys, coastal plains of eroded ma- 
terial, and swamps. Among the mountains the 
air is temperate, and all the surroundings de- 
lightful. In the deep valleys there is intense 
heat and poisoned air. Oh the coastal plains, 
wherever there is good drainage and an open 
sweep of the trade- winds, the climate is delight- 
ful, though hot, and the lands are desirable. In 
the swamps, no man can live. 

In the northern portions of the Isthmus there 
are mountains of considerable elevation. South- 
ward these gradually subside to the central de- 
pressions where the canal is being seriously 



considered. Farther south the mountains rise 
again and become very prominent. If the canal 
I goes to Panama, the Isthmus will enjoy some 
years of active construction, with large expendi- 
tures of money, followed by a great commercial 
movement. Lands along the central depressions 
are good and fertile, but the climate is unde- 
sirable. To the south the inhospitable San Bias 
Indians are a dangerous element, so it appears 
that the lands most desirable for foreigners are 
in the northeastern part of the Isthmus, and that 
Boeus del Toro and the Chiriqui Lagoon regions 
will be the places from which supplies to feed 
the canal labourers will be principally drawn; 
though there will be a strong rival some distance 
to the eastward in the Sierra Nevada de Santa 
Marta Mountains, also a portion of Colombia; 
for there everything can be grown, even the 
products of the temperate regions of the north, 
and from there vessels once loaded can run 
directly before the trade-winds into Colon; but 
of the lands on the Isthmus, those of the north- 
east seem to me the most desirable, and I have 
written of them because it may be that presentlj^ 
many will be going south, and a word in time 
may be valuable. Coastal plains, where the 



drainage is good, and the winds blow freely, 
are desirable; mountainsides, so situated that 
products can be easily carried to the sea, are 
almost sure to provide a favourable basis for 
development; but of the coastal plains where 
water is stagnant and the trade-winds are weak, 
of the rich alluvials bordering on swamps, and 
of the deep, hot valleys, beware, — even the In- 
dians avoid them. 

Of all that I saw in northeastern Panama, 
the primeval tropical forests at the base of the 
mountains were most impressive. There one 
steps from a canoe to the shore, pushes aside a 
rank growth of reeds and plants, struggles 
through them for a little distance, reaches a 
wall of green foliage, lifts an overhanging 
bough, scrambles under, and the world is shut 
out; the traveller stands in shadow-land and 
silence. Strange, dim butterflies go wavering 
in and out among a dense growth of ferns and 
tender plants which could not endure the sun, 
giant trees form as it were columns for an ex- 
pansive roof of green, and everywhere the gray 
trunks of slender trees reach upward till their 
branches find the sunlight far above, and their 
naked stems seem like a slender tracery pendant 



from the upper roof of green. A tangled, 
matted growth it is, dimbing vines festooned 
among the trees, deep shadows, here and there 
a bit of glowing sunlight, and mysterious depths 
ever opening out as one presses forward. Such 
are the primeval forests of the tropics, and no- 
where can they be seen to better advantage than 
at northeastern Panama. 

That the Isthmus has many desirable places 
is evidenced by the Indian tribes who have long 
made it their chosen home. In the north there 
are the Chiriqui tribes, Indians who make pot- 
tery and have better methods in their system of 
living than many of the Central American tribes. 
In the mountains of the interior there are other 
Indians, who much resemble the Talamanca 
people of Costa Rica, but who are at bitter 
enmity with them. My visits to the country 
occupied by these Indians were not long enough 
to learn much of their customs. In appearance, 
they have a general resemblance to the Indian 
races found through Central America, from the 
coastal plains and forests of Honduras, south- 
ward to the depression of hills, and to the 
swamps and lowlands between Colon and Pan- 



South of this depression are the San Bias 
Indians, with whom my acquaintance is also 
limited. Their appearance indicates a race dif- 
ferent from the Indians living along the coast 
farther north. The San Bias men have stronger 
features and more character in their faces. 
Traders who have frequently been along their 
coast tell me that their morals and methods of 
living are a credit to them, and I was told that 
their word in a trade was good even to their 
own disadvantage. Once given, their word 
would not be broken. 

I was told that their chief had stated, when 
talking of their tribal legends, that white men 
and gold were the two curses of the Indians, and 
because of them their ancestors had long ago 
come as fugitives across the deadly swamps to 
the south, and had settled among their isolated 
mountains where neither white men nor gold 
could come. 

I was told that the chief had said that for- 
merly they were a great people, and that their 
two principal cities were called Quito and Ca- 
racas, and that between those cities there had 
been a great country inhabited by many In- 
dians, and there was much gold. Then the 



white men came, and the gold brought trouble, 
and finally his ancestors went away, crossing 
the mountains, swamps, and rivers, till they 
should find a country so far distant that the 
white enemy could not find them, and where 
gold could not be had. This is a legend. I 
did not hear it from the Indians myself; but 
several traders corroborated the story, and all 
attested the strange determination by which the 
San Bias Indians maintain that death is pref- 
erable to the presence of white strangers. One 
thing is certain, no white man can live in the 
San Bias country. These Indians will trade 
any of their products, so long as the traders 
sleep in their ships, and come ashore only when 
invited; but let the trader speak of gold, and 
they will all leave, assuring the trader that there 
is none in their country, and that he had better 
go somewhere else. 

Little is known of the San Bias country, and 
it is said that their mountains are rich in gold 
and that other minerals are abundant. This is 
more than probable, for those mountains are 
directly in the line of the chain of gold deposits, 
which, beginning in Alaska, continue southward, 
through California, across Mexico, Central 



America, and Panama, and thence on southward 
far away into the Andean ranges. Yet it is 
probable that the legends of gold in the San 
Bias country are exaggerated, for exaggeration 
has always an undisputed field where the country 
is unknown. 

It is related that a party of Colombians from 
Cartagena, attracted by the rich agricultural 
lands of the San Bias country, started a colony 
there, settling on the shores of a convenient har- 
bour on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus ; but on 
the first night, bands of Indians attacked them, 
and killed all but one, who, after being tortured, 
was sent back to Cartagena with his ears cut off, 
as an example to all who thought of visiting 
the San Bias country. The story continues that 
the government of Colombia sent soldiers to 
chastise the Indians, but the soldiers too were 
killed, except one who was captured, and who, 
after being tortured, was sent with his ears cut 
off as a present to the President of Colombia, 
with a warning that so all his soldiers would be 
treated if they came to the San Bias country. 

This was long ago, and since then that coun- 
try and its Indians have been left to their own 
devices. Along the San Bias coast there are 



numerous islands where the finest cocoanuts are 
grown, forming the principal article of com- 
merce sought by the traders who visit that 

When I saw these islands, I was simply sail- 
ing past them, for the Indians were not friendly 
to a complete stranger, and it was thought best 
not to stop. I was much impressed with the 
productiveness of those islands, and the lands 
beyond them looked attractive, but between the 
Indians of that country and white men is a bar- 
rier, and I have no information of what may be 
hidden behind their cocoanut plantations and 
the islands along their coast. 





While crossing the Isthmus of Panama I 
became thoroughly convinced that this was the 
most favourable route for a canal. One easily 
obtains such an impression from the proximity 
of the two oceans, for at Panama the extremes 
of the world meet at a narrow divide. The 
Pacific Ocean ebbs and flows, piling up a mighty 
tide of waters, rising and rising, a flood that 
comes as if there were to be no ending, at some 
places even turning fresh-water rivers backward 
on their course for miles inland; and then the 
tide subsiding, a mighty rush of waters turns 
again to the ocean; nor is the outward flow 
checked till great stretches of mud and rock 
are uncovered, where but a short time before 
had been water deep enough for vessels to sail 



undisturbed. On the other side of the Isthmus 
are the waters of the Caribbean, where the tides 
are scarcely noticed, and the appearances are as 
different as the waters of one side of the earth 
can be from the waters of the other side. 

At Nicaragua these conditions are not so 
impressive, for between the shifting sands at 
Graytown and the Pacific there is a large stretch 
of country, a route of travel occupying some 
days, so that one is impressed with difficulties 
and distances, and wonders at the engineering 
skill which could plan a waterway to accommo- 
date ocean-going vessels for so great a distance ; 
but travelling between Colon and Panama one 
sees the two oceans within a few hours, and feels 
how close one is to the other, and thinks how 
natural that a canal should be planned to cut 
the hills which separate them. 

Once when I was making some examinations 
on the borderlands of Costa Rica and Nica- 
ragua, I stood on an elevated ridge where I 
could see all the proposed route for the eastern 
portion of the Nicaragua Canal. I saw before 
me a vast stretch of country, treacherous low- 
lands such as I have learned to dread, and I 
imagined the strange appearance a great ship 








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would make, passing on among the dense wood- 
lands, should the canal be constructed over that 
route, and I could not but think of the cost of 
maintenance. I have had to deal with the prob- 
lem so frequently in the tropics, where earth- 
works do not resist as they do at the North; 
and I wondered how many times the banks of 
the canal would be washed down in such a coun- 
try by the sudden floods which come so often 
in the tropics, and from where I stood it seemed 
that all the water of that great basin would 
wash toward the proposed canal route. And 
I wondered if a great dam could be continuously 
maintained, for the soil is eroded of recent ma- 
terial from the surrounding volcanic ranges, 
and is lightly packed. The proposed lake would 
cover a great area, and at places its banks would 
be little more than low divides, which, it seemed 
to me, would afford but unstable retaining pow- 
ers where floods would chafe to find an outlet. 
The soil is easily eroded, and the fierce storms, 
all too frequent in that country, might readily 
supply the force, and at some unexpected point 
erosion might form an outlet, and suddenly the 
waters of the lake might subside, doing incal- 
culable harm. 


Nor is maintenance the only difficulty, and 
surely the Panama route has its share of main- 
tenance problems, only the problems do not con- 
tinue over so great a distance as at Nicaragua. 
There are shifting sands at Graytown, but at 
Colon there is quiet water. At Graytown there 
is the full force of the waves which are contin- 
ually washing against the shore. What a seri- 
ous impediment to navigation, and what wrecks 
will strew that shore if the canal goes to Nica- 
ragua, for the entrance could be but compara- 
tively narrow; surely a ship would require skil- 
ful handling to make safe entrance during 
rough weather. At Colon a rowboat could go 
safely on a pleasant excursion in and out of the 
canal entrance. 

Graytown has one advantage, a great advan- 
tage over Colon, it is among the healthiest of 
places in the tropics, because it is built on a 
series of sand deposits, which have been formed 
seaward one after the other, and the place is 
open to the full sweep of the trade-winds ; but 
back of Graytown is a swampy country extend- 
ing a long distance inland. Advocates of the 
Nicaragua route contend that these swamps are 
healthful, but I have never seen a healthful 


swamp in the tropics, and I have seen a goodly 
number of them; one can live in such regions 
for a time, but once let extensive excavations 
be undertaken, and the swamps will give an 
account of themselves. There is another seri- 
ous question to be considered in regard to the 
Nicaragua route: it lies between two ranges 
of mountains where there are volcanoes, dor- 
mant it is true, but still giving indications 
ominous of what might be. In Costa Rica, 
one called Poas at the western end of the range 
is still steaming. In the crater of another, 
Irazu, directly overshadowing the proposed 
route, water has risen up and disappeared 
again, an instance carefully explained by my 
guide when I ascended that mountain, and 
spent some time examining the crater. Across 
the broad valley the ancient volcanoes of Nica- 
ragua are all dormant, but frequently myste- 
rious rumblings are heard among them. Can 
any one say surely that these volcanoes are 

As I stood looking across the eastern portion 
of the proposed Nicaragua route, I felt a slight 
tremor under my feet, so slight it might have 
been only a fancy, then came a faint rumbling, 



and my guide said, " Hear the Nicaragua moun- 
tains growling at us. A storm is coming." 

I asked him if this sign was sure, and he 
said that when rumbhng sounds came from the 
mountains in Nicaragua a storm could be ex- 
pected, that they did growl sometimes in dry 
weather, but they usually made the most noise 
when the rainy season first began, so people 
associated them with rain. Surely those are 
ominous features, and one's spirit trembles at 
the thought of what might be, should those vol- 
canoes again become active. In Costa Rica is a 
range of volcanoes, one of which at the extreme 
western elevation is still steaming, the others 
standing like gaunt sentinels, their cinder cones 
raised high in the air, barren and desolate, over- 
looking a broad valley; and on the northern 
side of this valley is a series of mountains 
from among which rumbling sounds come so 
frequently that people living along the south- 
ern edge of the valley listen with indifference, 
remarking only that rain is coming; and 
through this valley the construction of a great 
interoceanic canal has been seriously, and even 
earnestly advocated. 

I was so deeply impressed with the difficulties 




and dangers of the Nicaragua route that I said 
to friends, on returning to the coast, that no 
canal would be built at Nicaragua until the 
political difficulties which stood in the way of a 
reasonable treaty with Colombia had been con- 
sidered in all their features, and were found 
to make it impossible that a canal should be 
undertaken at the Panama route. 

In Colon I was asked for my opinion over and 
over again, for at the time of my visit it looked 
as though the Nicaragua route would be selected 
for this great enterprise; and when I went 
away, common report had it that in Nicaragua 
there was a valley of fire surrounded with blaz- 
ing volcanoes, and that I had seen it, — a good 
example of Spanish-American exaggeration. 





From Colon I took a steamer bound for Sa- 
venilla, the seaport of Barranquilla, Colombia, 
where I arrived in two or three days, and im- 
mediately began preparations for a journey to 
the gold regions of Antioquia. 

I found Barranquilla a city of activity, sand, 
dust, fleas, and pretensions; but for all that, 
it is one of the coming places in Spanish Amer- 
ica, and has so much to expect from the future 
that it would be difficult to set a limit to the 
growth and development which may be here ex- 
pected; for all the great waterways of Colom- 
bia lead to this city near the mouth of the 
Magdalena. After a few days at Barranquilla, 
I took passage on one of the numerous river 
steamers, and was presently making my way up 
the muddy waters of the Magdalena. The 
steamer was crowded, the day burning hot, and 




the succession of monotonous appearing swamps 
and low meadows was most uninteresting. Mud- 
banks, sand-bars, and dead trees were frequently 
passed; alligators, herons, and aquatic bifds 
were in abundance; and on either side of the 
river the lowlands, swamps, and lagoons spread 
out for miles. A most unhealthful region, where 
foreigners can hardly expect to find lands suited 
to them, though many people native to these 
lowlands do well in this country. After a few 
days' travelling, the steamer reached Puerto 
Barrio, and there I left her to take the road 
overland to Madellen, and on this road I found 
inconveniences abundantly, in some places even 
sorrows, for the chinch-bug was ever present, 
and the nights were passed as a delirium rather 
than as a time of rest and sleep. 

This was Antioquia, a region endowed by 
every resource of nature, from mineral wealth 
to agricultural products. The people in the 
uplands are a strong, vigorous race, fine-looking 
and intelligent, but shrewd and rather hard in 
their dealings. The mountainsides and fertile 
valleys of their country are well occupied, and 
most of the best places are taken up. Travel- 
ling on their principal road to the capital, Ma- 


dellen, one passes over the mountain ridges, 
follow then the road into deep, rich valleys, 
where all the surroundings are a delight to the 
eye ; but at night, when one stops at the road- 
houses, there are chinch-bugs and torture. I 
will never forget a night when a travelling com- 
panion took me to one of the smallest of these 
places, where all the family worked, ate, and 
slept in a single room; here he sat up nearly 
all the night talking boisterously, and a group 
of women at one side of the room told their 
beads continuously, a singsong drone varied 
with long, loud petitions for material benefits. 
Apparently they proposed to keep on praying 
all the night, and the chinch-bugs in droves and 
hosts came attacking me as I lay helpless on a 
rough bed, finding sleep impossible, and wonder- 
ing why I could have been such a fool as to come 
to the tropics. There was no sleep that night, 
and when morning came I was a mass of blister- 
ing bites and blood-marks from the attacks of 
the chinch-bugs, and found myself in a state of 
irritated fever. Fortunately I reached Madellen 
that day, and found better quarters, where, 
under the influence of fine air and clean food, 
I was soon myself again. 

^ 244 


I stopped for a time in the city, making vari- 
ous excursions from there to examine mines in 
different places, among them the strange, deep 
valleys where rivers have eroded almost to sea- 
level, bringing, all the while, gold-dust down 
from the surrounding mountains, to be collected 
in the low valleys, where the streams at flood 
overflow their banks, and then quickly subside 
again, leaving behind them mud and decaying 
vegetable material to fester in the sun. This 
poisons the air to such an extent that none can 
remain in those valleys without contracting dan- 
gerous fevers. 

After attending to such matters as claimed 
my attention at Madellen, I engaged mules, and 
with a guide started over the mountains for a 
place called Zaragoza. At first all went well, 
then one day I was attacked with a violent fever, 
such as I had never known. I stopped at a 
road-house, where good fortune followed me; 
the place was clean, and was presided over by 
a kind woman, who, seeing my condition, gave 
me every attention, in fact, better care I could 
not have had; but in spite of her efforts the 
fever kept mounting higher; such remedies as 
I had were of no avail, and matters were be- 



coming serious. Medical aid could not be had 
except by sending miles away, and grave faces 
were gathered about me, when, to the surprise of 
everybody, one of the most noted physicians of 
Madellen came passing that way, a providential 
aid for me; he came just at the critical hour, 
passing the house where I lay, on his road to 
visit a coffee plantation he owned, not having 
seen or been that way since two years, and now 
visiting it for the last time, for he intended 
never to come again. My good hostess ran 
eagerly to call him, and as he came in the room 
I realized I was to be in good hands. A hurried 
examination, and he sent my man galloping 
away for medicines, and in about two hours I 
was being put through a course of heroic treat- 
ment, — first, emetics for two hours, during 
which I drank quarts of water to assist the ac- 
tion; after this there was a course of purging, 
so violent that it seemed scarcely endurable, 
but the treatment effected a cure, and the next 
day I was told [that I had suffered an attack of 
malignant fever, a malady so dangerous that 
it frequently kills in twelve to twenty-four hours. 
Truly the physician had come only just in time. 
After a day or two, I resumed my journey, and 



presently found myself on a road which for 
mud, difficult passes, and utter abandonment 
was equal to anything I had ever seen. It led 
me through unhealthful regions, and I fre- 
quently noticed a nameless wayside grave, some- 
times a group of them, mute testimony to the 
struggles which others had endured on this 
awful road. I kept pushing on, while touches 
of the fever came returning at times, and as 
I continued from day to day the thought was 
ever in my mind, would my end be a nameless 
wayside grave along that desolate road.^^ By 
struggling on, I arrived at Zaragoza weak and 
tired, and there had another attack of fever, but 
knowing how to treat it, I was soon well again ; 
and I can recommend to all travellers in the 
tropics to carry strong emetics, active purga- 
tive medicines, and quinine. If a fever is taken 
in time, there is Httle danger. Begin with an 
emetic, and let it be thorough, helping the ac- 
tion by abundant drafts of warm water, then 
take a purge, and a big one to act quickly, after 
that take large doses of quinine for a few days. 

From Zaragoza I made canoe trips to vari- 
ous gold mines, and then went down the Nachi 
and Cauca Rivers, chancing it to find canoes for 



the way. It was a rather doubtful experiment, 
but a merchant who was travelling with me said 
we would certainly find canoes going from place 
to place; and in this we were successful, though 
our necessities brought us strange travelling 
companions. Sometimes we went with a group 
of labourers who were seeking work, at others 
we travelled with merchants who peddled goods 
from their canoes, and sometimes we went along 
with cargoes of produce which had been gathered 
from the woodlands and jungles. We met with 
rough, irresponsible people who travelled as they 
fancied, were happy on any provision, and 
went their way drinking and gambling, cursing 
or murdering, as moved by the occasion. Alone 
I would have had a sorry time with them, but 
my companion was a merchant of influence, and 
affairs went favourably. One day a peddhng 
merchant who was carrying us on the Cauca 
River stopped at a little settlement, and there 
began drinking. Soon he was intoxicated, and 
then presented us with his canoe, and ordered 
his men to take us on our way. We were glad 
of an excuse to go, and proposed to leave the 
canoe at the next stopping-place in charge of 
the owner's son, who was going on with us. 



Without any delay, we pushed ofF from the 
shore, and, congratulating ourselves on our 
good fortune, went floating away down the 
muddy waters of the Cauca. 

We had not gone far, however, when the man, 
now delirious with rum, started in pursuit, 
shouting for us to stop. This we tried to avoid, 
and endeavoured to keep ahead of him, think- 
ing he would follow to the next stopping-place ; 
but presently he plunged into the river, intent 
on swimming to the canoe in which we were trav- 
elling. We hurried to his assistance, and he 
clambered on board intent on vengeance. In 
drunken frenzy he seized a knife and made an 
attack upon my companion, but one of the boat- 
men, by a clever tipping of the canoe, sent him 
headlong into the water again. Then he grap- 
pled the side of the canoe, and we towed him 
to land, not without some diiBculty, for he was 
determined to climb in again, which we all decid- 
edly opposed. Fortunately, when we reached 
the shore, he was exhausted, and then we left 
him and his turbulent crew to quarrel, drink, and 
murder if they wished ; while we, taking an- 
other canoe from a landing near by, went float- 



ing away on the deep, muddy waters of the Rio 

In a day or two more we reached the Mag- 
dalena, and there found a stream whieh took us 
directly to Barranquilla. It was in the height 
of the dry season, and all the country for miles 
about the city looked dead and desolate, naked 
trees and withered grass, dust on everything, 
under a burning and indistinct sky. 





I WAS not sorry to take the first opportunity 
to leave Barranquilla, though really it is a most 
desirable place, and shortly after my arrival I 
started for the eastern part of the country, be- 
ginning my journey with a canoe voyage across 
the swamps and lagoons to the eastward of 
Barranquilla. We were to have started at eight 
p. M. I was the guest of the owners, and came 
to the canoe promptly, but the men did not 
appear, and when at last they did come, it was 
well on toward morning, and then a most un- 
pleasant journey was commenced. The swamps 
were full of mosquitoes, mud-banks, and stag- 
nant water; but there was very little vegeta- 
tion, only rank ferns, reeds, and mangrove- 
trees, and one wearied of the monotony; then 
the men were drunken and ugly ; the owners of 



the canoe had not told them they were to take 
a passenger, and my presence was not pleasing 
to them. First they demanded various sums 
of me, and then decided the best thing was to 
throw me overboard. We were now in a broad 
lagoon, and the prospect was not alluring, but 
fortunately my pistol was ready, and com- 
manded some respect, though it is a difficult 
thing to control drunken men. A white man 
was in charge of the canoe, but he was as drunk 
as his men, and the affairs were becoming rather 
unpleasant. Presently the men began quarrel- 
ling among themselves ; one struck another a 
heavy blow on the head with his paddle, split- 
ting the scalp, and knocking him overboard. 
We all thought he was killed, but, on dragging 
him into the canoe, found he was not much in- 
jured, though for a time he was insensible. 
This incident had a quieting influence, and now 
there was not so much trouble, probably because 
about that time the supply of rum gave out, 
and we reached our destination in safety. I 
am told that after I left the party the quarrel 
broke out again with the first supply of rum, 
and that two of my late companions were killed. 
I make it a rule when travelling not to allow 



any rum in the party, and usually make good 
progress, but I was only a guest while crossing 
the swamps, and so could not forbid the supply 
of liquor. I was now at a place called Le 
Siennega, and saw a great lagoon stretching 
westward as far as the eye could reach; about 
me an open sand-plain, where there were thorn- 
bushes, acacia, and cactus plants; and to the 
eastward the lofty ranges of the Sierra Nevada 
de Santa Marta, their sunburnt sides covered 
with trees naked in the dry season, and, to all 
appearances, withering away or quite dead. 
From here a railway took me to Santa Marta, 
a picturesque little place at the base of the 
mountains, where there is a good harbour, and 
desirable coffee lands among the hills and valleys 
back of the city. It was important that I should 
not remain here long, yet there were no means of 
continuing my journey, nor would there be for 
some weeks. This would never do, and I searched 
earnestly for an opportunity. Fortunately, 
some Indians were living near Santa Marta, 
making their livings by deep-sea fishing. They 
were used to the water, and I asked them if they 
could not take me out to sea and then along 
the coast in one of their big canoes. The leader 


said, " Yes, but you know what will happen if 
the wind blows." 

" Yes, I know." 

" We are not afraid, if you are not." 

I was not afraid, or, rather, there was a 
reason so urgent that I felt the risk was re- 
quired, that I might prevent the loss of certain 
properties for the people I was representing; 
so I made a bargain with the Indians, and we 
would start that night when the moon came up. 

There was no weakening on the part of the 
Indians. They said they would go, and they 
were ready on the minute, — a characteristic of 
these people which all must respect; but, un- 
fortunately, this is little understood by white 
men, and hence there is endless contention where 
Indians are employed. If an Indian says he 
will, he can be relied on exactly to the last de- 
tail. A white man says he will, and the Indians 
expect him to be exact to the last moment in 
time, the last cent in money, and the last frac- 
tion of an ounce in goods ; but an hour's delay, 
a mistake in accounts, and their confidence is 
lost ; be a day late, and enemies will be found 
where friends were expected, but be exact to the 
minute, the pennyweight, and the letter, and 



your men are your enthusiastic friends and 
faithful servants to the last extremity. Another 
mistake is to urge them too much to promise 
what they are doubtful of rendering. They will 
undertake it for you, but not under their word, 
and then results are doubtful. I sometimes 
think they would rather fail just to prove that 
they were right and you were wrong. 

But to return to my journey. I was with 
the Indians, and they had said they would take 
me. Everything was ready at the moment. 
Without a word the Indians loaded the canoe, 
and we were presently making our way steadily 
toward the open sea. As the canoe was paddled 
rapidly across the still waters of the harbour, 
I felt secure in all that endurance and faith- 
fulness could do to take me safely to my jour- 
ney's end. In a few moments, we were out in 
the open sea ; the mountains stood a bold, 
gloomy outline to the south, and to the north 
there was the broad expanse of the open sea, 
great waves and troubled waters furrowing its 
surface. All along the coast there were 
cliffs, and the mighty waves crashed against 
them repeatedly, and subsided; a moment of 
quiet, and then the repeated breaking of an- 



other series of waves, — about us the night was 
damp and heavy. No one spoke; the naked 
Indians bent resolutely to their oars, and truly 
it required all their force to make headway. 
It was a fine night, only a gentle breeze was 
blowing, and presently we were making good 
progress; but as morning commenced to dawn 
the chief looked somewhat anxious; presently 
the wind would come; we must reach a bight 
among the cliffs, and he urged his men, but 
they knew as well as he, and bent with all their 
force. We were still some distance from our 
haven, and, as the light grew stronger, puffs 
of wind began to scud across the water, not 
very strong at first, but occasionally a puff 
would come with sudden, ominous force. The 
men worked as I had never seen men work be- 
fore, untiring, forceful; and the great canoe 
went steadily on and on, but the wind was ever 
increasing. As the day grew in light, I could 
see that the naked legs of the Indians had been 
chafed through by the rough boards on which 
they sat, and that blood was dripping, but still 
they worked on, and made no sign of complaint. 
At times I thought the wind would surely drive 
us on the rocks; twice I offered to help row, 



but the chief bade me sit still, and I have 
learned to do as the Indians direct; they will 
not tolerate interference; directions once given 
will be carried out in their own way to the end ; 
so I watched the great waves beat against the 
cliffs, which one moment were covered with foam 
and spray, dashing upward many feet, and the 
next instant would be naked, and looking invit- 
ingly harmless, only to be covered again with 
beating waves and foam as the waters broke 
against them with crashing, ominous sounds. 

We were fortunate to round a point of rocks 
successfully, the most dangerous place on our 
voyage, and just beyond found smoother water 
where better headway could be made, and pres- 
ently we were camping for the day on a sand- 
beach in a bight among the rocks, the tired 
Indians throwing themselves on the ground to 
rest, but with no sign or word of complaint. 
The day passed pleasantly, and when evening 
came we went on again, and so for three days. 
The Indians worked faithfully, and brought me 
in good time to my destination ; then, according 
to their custom, they turned back again with 
scarcely a word. They had done as they agreed, 
and simply went their way. 





The Indians had brought me to a little town 
called Dibulla, where I completed titles to a 
great quantity of mineral lands for the com- 
pany I represented, and then began a series of 

First I examined the base of the mountains, 
and one day, accompanied by a number of men, 
I was working on a rolling savannah where the 
ground had a rather favourable appearance for 
coal. As we went about among the hills, we 
jumped a deer from a clump of bushes and tall 
grass. It ran in great fright for a long dis- 
tance, and then stood still where we could just 
see it, much too far away for a shot. I tried, 
however, pointing my rifle about ten feet up the 
wind, and shooting high over my sights; we 



stood an instant watching; the deer put down 
its head to feed, then jumped suddenly, and 
we could see as the ball struck the bank beyond, 
and that it had just grazed the animal's neck. 
If it hadn't put its head down to feed, I would 
have killed it. 

Some of the men said it was hit hard, and 
started in pursuit, but they were evidently mis- 
taken and soon came back. Then, as we were 
returning to the hut, the men were talking it 
over, wondering, and still exclaiming at such 
a remarkable rifle and such a wonderful shot. 

We had no meat in the camp, but next morn- 
ing, as I was about starting for the woods, 
one of the men ran and brought my rifle, say- 
ing as he came, " Never mind ; this will bring 
us meat, and plenty of it, before night." 

It was a beautiful day, and presently we 
started a flock of wild turkeys, and I had the 
pleasure of missing in succession three unusually 
fine shots at birds sitting perfectly still in the 
open branches ; but with such a reputation as 
I estabhshed, it was all blamed on the rifle, or 
the day, and even the light might have been 
deceptive. We went on, and soon fell in with 
another flock of turkeys, and I missed four 



shots, which was certainly discouraging; but 
when, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I 
had missed twenty-seven good shots at turkeys, 
my companion said, with many apologies, that 
the rifle must have gone wrong in the night, 
and, as it would be convenient to have some meat, 
perhaps he had better kill the next turkey with 
his shotgun ; which he did in a very short time, 
securing three without much difficulty. I 
thought of the men at camp, and remembered 
what they had said, " Never mind ; this will 
bring us meat, and plenty of it." I looked at 
my rifle; felt like kicking it all the way to the 
ocean, and then jumping in after it. 

I didn't eat turkey that night; I preferred 
fish; and it wasn't very good fish, either; the 
fact is, it was rotten fish, but it was better than 

I tested that rifle a few days later, and found 
the sights were in good order, and I regret to 
say that from that day to this I have not done 
much shooting. 

A time passed examining lands and mineral 
outcroppings at the base of the mountains made 
me eager for a change, and a few days later, 
my preparations having been finished, I was 



anxiously waiting for an opportunity to carry 
my explorations to the lofty, almost unknown, 
regions among the mountains rising just be- 
fore me. 

I was anxious to start at once, but in Spanish 
America the great day is to-morrow, and why 
should one hurry when a better day is always 
coming? Yet this disposition is most annoying 
to travellers, who cannot understand the indo- 
lent disposition of the natives; while, for their 
part, the natives are firmly convinced that all 
foreigners are crazy. 

It seemed almost unreasonable that better 
progress could not be made, but it was impor- 
tant to have animals brought from the moun- 
tains, because none others could climb the rough 
trails. I was put off from day to day, and 
constantly annoyed by new causes for delay. 
At last I was informed that the animals had 
arrived, or rather, some were passing that way 
which I could engage if I wished. I ordered 
them at once, and my surprise may be imagined 
when three shaggy-coated bulls were driven up 
to my door. I was disappointed, but of course 
did not want them; I was looking for animals 
accustomed to mountain trails. 



" Tiiese are the proper animals," their owner 
said ; " only bulls and oxen can go up there ; 
two are for your baggage, and one is for you to 

I immediately changed my plans. I wasn't 
riding bulls; perhaps I was prejudiced, but 
I preferred to walk. I engaged the strongest- 
looking animal for a light cargo, and wanted to 
start at once; but no, it was late, and the next 
day would be Good Friday, a bad day for 
travelling, and the men were not willing to go. 
By angry persuadings, I at last forced from 
them a reluctant consent to start the next morn- 
ing, though they assured me we would have 
trouble, that it was a bad day, and evil would 
surely follow us. 

Next morning everything was ready, but the 
owner had decided that his bull could not go 
out on Good Friday, not because of any respect 
for the day, but for fear that some evil might 
come to the animal. 

Fortunately other bulls had come down from 
the mountains, and we secured one that looked 
like a fine, big fellow, and started on our way. 
But evidently this bull had ideas of its own 
about travelling on Good Friday, and we had 



not gone far when he began to rear and plunge, 
jumping about with such violence that the cargo 
was scattered all over on the ground, and the 
pack-saddle broken and trampled to pieces; 
then the bull took to the woods and disappeared. 

" There," said my bull-driver, " I told you 
we could not start to-day; now see what has 
happened; we must pack up all the things and 
go back to the house." 

" Nothing of the kind," I said ; '' go back 
and bring another bull." 

He looked at me in astonishment. " After 
such a warning, the fault is yours ; if you make 
us go, the trouble will come to you, not to us. 
The Devil is in the woods to-day." 

A sharp command, and he hurried away, fol- 
lowed by my servant, who was equally aston- 
ished at my temerity. After a time, they came 
back with a tough-looking little bull, the pack 
was rearranged, and we started on again. I 
felt a little sinful myself, but with all the feast- 
days and rest-days to follow, it seemed best that 
I should push on at once. 

After we were under way, travelling was 
about as usual, and the fears of the men were 
overcome to some extent. Our route took us 



down the beach for about six hours, and then 
along a trail over low ground toward the moun- 
tains. Here, in spite of the day, we were for- 
tunate to get across some wet places without 
difficulty, though the men predicted every 
trouble, and perhaps the loss of the bull and 
cargo, because, in spite of my infidelity, the 
Devil would surely catch the bull by the legs 
and drag him down into the mud; and, if not 
this, a snake would come and bite me. Yes, I 
might laugh, the Devil was bigger than I 
thought; wait, and I would see. But I didn't 
see, and, as stated, we passed the mud-holes in 
safety. A little further on, we met a party of 
men also travelling, and there was a moment 
of mutual surprise between them and my men; 
then explanations followed, and it appeared that 
both parties were travelling from necessity. 

One of the men carried a gun, and when my 
men asked him if he had shot anything, he re- 
plied : " Don't you remember what day it is ? 
What's the use of firing? It would be impos- 
sible to kill anything." 

" True," replied my man, " I had forgotten." 

Then we went on again, and a little later got 

a shot at some turkeys. I took careful aim, 



and missed, of course, and I know why: it was 
the Devil, and he is in my rifle yet. A little 
later we came to a hut at the base of the moun- 
tains, and there camped for the night, and noth- 
ing happened. But in the morning we missed 
the bull, and the men said, " We told you so ; 
you will never get up the mountain. You 
started Good Friday. The Devil is with you," 
and other encouraging remarks. 

I gave them my opinion in words that were 
forcible, if not strictly moral, and ordered them 
to find that bull; which they did in a short 
while, where it might have been expected, quietly 
feeding on some long grass near a spring run. 

Starting on again, we presently began to 
climb the mountains. Our way led us to some 
of the most beautiful places in all South Amer- 
ica, an ascent up through a tangled jungle, 
with vistas of the blue ocean in the distance, 
and occasional glimpses of the lofty mountains 
beyond us. 

At one place in the road, the men took me 
stealthily to a high bank, overhanging a pool 
of clear water, where I had an opportunity to 
see one of the largest alligators, perhaps, in 
all the world. I have seen others almost as 



large, but none that appeared so big and heavy. 
I fired at him, but the men said it was a waste 
of ammunition ; bullets could make no impres- 
sion, that is, not from above, and one could 
rarely approach him from the river, he was so 
wary; and when one did succeed in getting 
near enough for a shot, he would always show 
fight, and was considered too dangerous for an 

On our first day's march there was little of 
interest, only continued fatigue. We had ex- 
pected to stop for the night at one of the camps 
prepared by the Aurohuaco Indians for the con- 
venience of their people, who frequently use 
the road on which we were travelling. We 
found these camps too dirty for use, and full of 
vermin, and were forced to keep on, hoping to 
reach a house before night. 

We were making good progress, but along 
in the afternoon the bull lay down, as if ex- 
hausted. " We told you so," came from the 
men with sundry variations. I did not stop 
to listen to their remarks about the powers of 
Satan, but fell to work vigorously urging the 
bull on, and presently succeeded. 

About sunset we had crossed the first range 



of mountains, and were passing through a 
mountain valley, where the gathering shades of 
the evening made pleasant travelling, and the 
bull plodded along patiently, as if it under- 
stood the situation. As it began to grow dark, 
we were approaching a higher ridge of the 
mountain, and I felt many misgivings as to 
our ability to reach a house, which the men now 
assured me could not be far away; but just 
then we saw a light, and in a few minutes we 
were standing before the door of a well-built 
hut, where a solitary Indian, named Mario 
Henio, was living with his only child, a pretty 
little girl of some twelve or fourteen years. 
The Indian came to welcome us, holding three 
pieces of sugar-cane in his hands, one for each, 
and it was pleasant to receive his grave, kindly 

I was pleased to see that my guide's first 
thought was for the bull, and the tired animal 
was made comfortable with an abundance of 
fresh grass. It had done good work that day, 
and a pack-mule could never have come so far. 

From our provisions a bountiful supper was 
prepared, which we shared with the Indian and 
his little girl; and then we all went to bed, 



where I found it comfortable to have my blan- 
kets gathered close around me in my hammock, 
while a fire in the centre of the house gave a 
softness to the crisp mountain air, but did not 
quite warm it. I had a beautiful sleep that 
night, and when I awoke in the morning my 
men were preparing the cargo, and the pretty 
little girl was busy getting breakfast. We had 
Indian provisions, and a quantity of rice and 
dried peche peche, a little bivalve, Donax den- 
ticulatus, which is found in great abundance at 
times in the sand along the sea at DibuUa. 
The flavour is delicate, and I had become very 
fond of them, and on starting for the mountains 
had taken a good supply among our provisions. 

After breakfast I gave some silver coins to 
the little Indian girl, whose delight and happy 
enthusiasm ov r the gift was a pleasant open- 
ing for the day. We had not far to go, and the 
only incident was the necessity of fording a 
mountain stream, where the water, originating 
in the perpetual snow of the higher mountains, 
was so cold that it made the flesh creep. 

About noon we reached Pueblo Viejo, where 
additional guides and a fresh animal were to be 
engaged. While preparations were being made, 



I had an opportunity to look about me. The 
place was delightful, a narrow valley among 
high mountain peaks, where in the distance the 
great snow-clad summits of the inner range 
could be distinctly seen. Opposite the little 
village was a solitary conical mountain, isolated, 
and not so high as the others, more regular in 
appearance, and covered with green grass to 
the very top. I determined I would explore it, 
and later told my men we would stop for a day 
or two at Pueblo Vie jo. 

As sunset was approaching, I went part way 
up that peculiar mountain to enjoy the view. 
I must have gone higher than I thought. After 
a time I found a seat on a bare spot, and alone 
in almost unknown mountains gave myself up 
to the enjoyment of the scene, a wilderness of 
rugged peaks towering all about me, the light 
of the sunset falling on them in sharp contrast 
to the gloomy shadows lengthening in the valley 
below. It was fascinating. Presently shadows 
began to gather over the mountains, and then, 
as the darkness of the tropical evening came, 
following after the sunset, the great peaks ap- 
peared to rise up higher and to draw nearer, 
as if to crush me, a tiny creature intruding 



himself before their majesty. Fascinated, I 
watched for a time, and then suddenly realized 
that night had come, and I was alone in the 
mountains. At first I was frightened, but on 
second thought I remembered that the trail 
went all around the base of the mountain, and 
that, go down as I would, I could not miss it. 
There was a little danger from poisonous snakes, 
but that was all, and I began at once making 
my way down wherever it seemed easiest. 

The grass had been burnt over, and to avoid 
snakes, I followed the burnt places, and made 
fair progress ; but I had to go carefully, as 
the mountain was steep, and a careless step on 
the coarse, angular gravel might give a bad 
fall. After going some distance, I saw ahead 
of me a black line extending some distance down 
the mountain, apparently a path leading ex- 
actly where I wanted to go. I considered my- 
self fortunate, and, hurrying toward it, put 
my foot down carefully, so as to get a firm 
hold on any loose ground, and the next thing 
I knew, I plunged head first into darkness, and 
fell on my back and shoulders, and then began 
slipping down, to where I did not know. For- 
tunately no bones were broken, but visions of 



snakes and stinging things nearly frightened 
away what little breath was left in my body. 

With the energy almost of despair, I clutched 
at the ground, and dug my feet into the loose 
gravel to hold myself from slipping on further ; 
then I found I was in a narrow chasm where 
I could hold on to either side and keep myself 
in position, while a company of bats flew taunt- 
ingly about in the dark. 

I saw now a line of light above me, and imme- 
diately began climbing toward it, a hand and a 
foot on each side. As I went higher, the chasm 
became wider, and I was just able to reach the 
top, and there, with a hand on either side and 
black darkness opening below, hung as if ex- 
ercising on the parallel bars, and it seemed only 
a question of a few minutes when my strength 
would give out, and down I would go again, 
into what I did not know. To practise gym- 
nastics with the unknown opening below one 
is hardly to be recommended. I had a hand on 
either side of the chasm, but there seemed no 
way to get both hands on one side. I kicked 
and struggled, and was just about to drop ex- 
hausted, when, sinking gradually, as my 
strength weakened, one foot struck against a 



rock or stone on one side of the chasm. It gave 
an insecure support, but, bracing my foot 
against it, I made a sort of spring, grabbed the 
long grass at one side, and hauled myself out, 
fortunately more frightened than hurt. 

I looked about me, a dizzy feeling in my 
head, and then saw some lights down the moun- 
tain, and heard excited voices calling my name. 
I answered, and then a voice came back through 
the darkness telling me not to move till guides 
arrived to show me the way down. Presently 
three frightened men came hurrying up, and 
asked at once if I had fallen into a pit, and 
when I said yes, they told me that some of those 
openings were hundreds of feet deep, and no 
man in the settlement would dare to cross that 
mountain at night without a good torch. 

We did not say anything more, but went 
directly down the mountain and back to the 
house, where I had something to eat, and then 
went to my hammock, thoroughly exhausted. 

Next morning I was awakened early by one 
of the men, who called into my room, " Get up 
quickly if you want to see the mountains ; they 
are all as if reflected in a mirror." I hurried 
out, and truly it was a beautiful sight: the air 



was so clear that every mountain, yes, every 
rock and every leaf, stood out in bold precision. 
The sun was not yet up, at least it was not 
shining in the valley, but there was light every- 
where, clear, cool, and brilliant, yet no signs of 
the sun. I did not lose a moment, but hurrying 
on my clothes, started to climb the green moun- 
tain. On the way up, I saw the hole in which I 
had fallen. It was about twenty feet deep, and 
how I escaped without serious injury I cannot 
tell. The hat I had worn was lying at the bottom 
of the chasm, but I had no time for that now, 
and hurried on, wishing to reach a high eleva- 
tion before the sun rose. As I went up, some 
of the higher peaks began to glow in the sun- 
light, and then long, golden rays came stream- 
ing across the valley, still well above my head. 
I hurried on, but presently the sunbeams in- 
creased, and it was time to stop and watch. I 
stood on a spur of the mountain in a deep 
shadow, at a point above some, and below others, 
of the mountain peaks ; all up and down the 
valley there were dark places in sharp contrast 
with great pathways of light ever increasing 
as the sun rose higher. As I watched, there 
came a flight of swallows, hundreds and hun- 


dreds, sailing swiftly down over the valley, pass- 
ing through sunlight and shadow, some above 
and some below me; and the morning was so 
clear that I could see each one of them with a 
distinctness that scarce seemed real, and, as they 
sailed swiftly on, their soft, rippling cries filled 
all the air. Then, while I was watching, the 
green peak behind me glowed with a sudden 
light. An instant more, and the shadows about 
me seemed to sink down, and then, in a burst 
of clear light, the sun rose over the mountains ; 
and Easter morning had dawned. I waited a 
few minutes more, while the last of the swallows 
went sailing on down to the lowlands, and then 
I went up to the top of the green mountain. 
It was a beautiful view from there, but that 
strange, clear light had gone out among the 
mountains, and the air lacked something; the 
scene was tame in comparison. After looking at 
some deep openings in the mountain, where, if 
one had fallen in, there would have been but 
little chance of ever getting out, I started for 
the house. On the way I cut a stout stick from 
a clump of bushes, and after a rough descent 
arrived at the house without accident, just in 



time for breakfast, which, it is needless to say, 
I enjoyed thoroughly. 

Arrangements to continue our journey were 
completed that afternoon. Everything was 
most satisfactory, and I was to start the next 
morning. I asked the men what had become 
of the Devil now, but their faith was not shaken, 
and with anxious faces they warned me to be 
careful, or he would have me yet. I joked with 
them for a time, and found considerable amuse- 
ment in their unreasoning fears and absurd an- 

I went to bed feeling well satisfied, but not 
for long, because my hands began to itch and 
pain suddenly, and I could not understand what 
it was. Presently it became so annoying that 
I got up, called one of the men, and asked what 
it could mean. They didn't know, but pres- 
ently one asked to see the stick I had cut in the 
mountains. It was standing in the corner, and 
I brought it to him. One look was sufficient, 
and he ordered it thrown out of the house. 
" Pringa Mosa," he said ; " didn't you know 
better than to cut that? " Then he told me that 
it would not be very bad, as it was not the worst 
kind, but that there was no help for me. 



One of my men had the impudence to make 
some remarks about the Devil and Good Friday, 
and the first thing I could lay hands on went 
flying at his head, but he was good at dodging 
and no harm was done. 

Next morning my face and hands were pain- 
ful and badly swollen, but everything was ready 
for an early start, and I decided to push on. 
We crossed a high mountain called El Barco. 
and made our way down to the beautiful valley 
of the Rio Ancho, where the grass was long and 
abundant, and all the air soft and cool like a 
bright day in October. Here we found a group 
of houses of the Aurohuaco and stopped for 

The houses were empty, and the silence of 
desertion, intensified by the rocky heights over- 
looking us, brooded undisturbed ; only our voices 
jarred against it. The breeze rustled the leaves 
on the trees, and the birds hid themselves in the 
bushes as if fleeing from some unknown danger. 
There was a mystery about it all. My guide 
shook his head, and told me that he was afraid 
the Indians had run away and it might be dan- 
gerous for us to stay in their country. 

"Why so.?" I asked. 



" Because this means you are not welcome, 
and it may be that as we go on they will roll 
great stones down on us from the mountains 
above the path. You can't depend on them; 
they are a strange lot." 

We ate our luncheon among the deserted 
houses, and then started on again, anxious to 
reach the Aurohuaco capital, San Miguel, before 
dark. The road took us on up the valley, now 
descending to a rushing river, again climbing 
over a projecting spur from the mountain, and 
after a time we came to a curious suspension 
bridge, made by the Indians, who had laid two 
long poles across a chasm, and then tied branches 
with convenient joints to them, in order to hold 
in place a series of logs lying on the angle 
formed by firmly binding together the lower 
ends of the branches. 

It made a fair bridge, but rather difficult to 
walk on, as it swayed uncomfortably, and no 
attempt had been made to shape the narrow logs 
which formed the foot-path. I got over safely, 
though several times my boots, which were very 
slippery, threatened to give me a bad fall. 

Across the bridge, I found myself on a sort of 
table-land within the valley, where there were 


boulders and blocks of granite lying about. 
The trail led to another flat place, and then up 
a terrace to a broad part of the valley, where 
presently we came to a gate, and then beyond 
us saw the city of San Miguel, a collection of 
one hundred to one hundred and fifty little round 
houses, protected by a strong fence, and stand- 
ing on an elevation at the foot of a great, bald 
mountain. Just outside of the city we came to 
the Cansa Maria, where the Indians hold their 
religious ceremonies and dances. 

It was a round building, somewhat larger than 
the houses, with a high, conical roof, and three 
poles at the top like an inverted tripod. On each 
of these poles was a clay cylinder, resembling a 
great earthen jar without a bottom. These were 
slipped over the poles and rested on the roof; 
apparently they were intended to hold the 
thatch in place, and were perhaps to serve as 
a sort of ornament as well. The building was 
circular, the sides of open triangular lattice- 
work, but inside we found nothing, and in a 
little round house behind the Cansa Maria there 
was nothing. The guide muttered to himself, 
shook his head angrily, and we hurried on. 
Soon we were among the houses, but a city of 



the dead could not be more desolate; there was 
nothing: household utensils, animals, people, 
all were gone. Even the little Catholic mission 
was deserted. We had been expecting to secure 
fresh provisions from the Indians, but had to 
content ourselves with the things we had 
brought. I didn't care, because there was 
plenty of peche peche, but my guide complained 
loudly, saying he expected bread, crackers, 
cheese, canned meat, and other delicacies usually 
carried by travellers; things which I had left 
behind long ago, as being a nuisance to carry, 
and such an expense for freight, etc., that it 
was cheaper on a long trip to buy eggs at a 
dollar each, when pressed for food, than to 
carry provision in bulk. 

Presently we heard a rooster crow on the 
other side of the river. It had evidently been 
forgotten, and the guide went after it. He 
returned shortly, and we had chicken stew, 
rice, and an abundant supply of peche peche, 
which I considered much better than the chicken. 
We had plenty of strong coffee, and I was as 
well contented as one could be who had expected 
to meet a strange, almost unknown, race of In- 
dians, but had found only a deserted city. 



We slept that night in one of the empty 
houses, and next morning the guide, who had 
become very unpleasant, said it was not safe 
for us to go on, and that we must return at 
once. One of my men gave a satisfied laugh, 
and I thought I heard him say something about 
the Devil and Good Friday; but he suddenly 
went about his work with great energy, and so 
nothing came of it. For my part, I was not 
going back, and after a few strong words, my 
guide agreed to go on to Macatama, where there 
was a Cansa Maria, and it might be that the 
Indians were there for some ceremony or other; 
but he reminded me that, if an avalanche of 
stones and rocks came rolling down, it would 
not be his fault; the Indians would not harm 
him or the others, but they would catch me if 
they could. I told him that I believed he was 
lying, and requested him to keep his mouth 
shut, and added that, if he was afraid to go 
on, I would do so alone. He muttered angrily 
as he arranged the cargo on his bull, and after 
a poor breakfast we started on. 

The valley now became narrower, and the 
trail led along the sides of the mountain. At 
times the guide said that he could see Indians 



high above us, keeping watch, but they were 
so far up that I could not make them out. 

After a time we came to a few houses and a 
Cansa Maria at a place called Takena. These 
were also deserted, and after stopping for 
luncheon, I ordered the guide to move on. A 
fog was coming up, and he complained angrily, 
saying that it was dangerous; that it might 
shut out the path; that the Indians would take 
advantage of it, or the bull would slip and be 
killed. I simply ordered him on, and he went, 
declaring that he would hold me responsible if 
anything happened to the bull. 

The road was quite easy, and we made good 
progress. Presently great banks of thick fog 
gathered around us, and then the trail suddenly 
became a narrower track, leading diagonally 
up the steep side of a great grassy ridge. 
Around us the silence was intense, broken only 
by the scraping of our feet on the loose gravel 
along the trail, or the cry of some frightened 
bird that flew up suddenly and then disappeared 
in the fog. From far below us came the indis- 
tinct sound of rushing waters. We could not 
see ten feet on any side, and as we went on it 



seemed like climbing up to some enchanted place 
on a pathway leading over the clouds. 

After two or three hours of cautious climb- 
ing, the conical roof of a house suddenly loomed 
up out of the fog. The guide stopped, saying, 
" This is Macatama ; we can go no further to- 
night; the next house is a long distance off." 

There was nothing but to do as he said, so, 
making ourselves comfortable in the deserted 
Cansa Maria, we prepared for the night, the 
guide saying that this was the utmost that could 
be expected ; that there was nothing to eat, and 
next morning we must hurry back, and get out 
of the Indian country. I did not say anything, 
but was fully determined that when morning 
came we would go at least one day's journey 
higher up among the mountains. 

The next day was as perfect as could have 
been asked, and all the air was fresh and crisp. 
We had coffee, and then I said we were going on 
higher up among the mountains, and we did, 
the guide driving his bull on in a furious rage, 
muttering all sorts of curses under his breath. 
After about an hour's hard walking, we came 
to three or four little houses at the head of the 
valley. Here the guide stopped, drove the bull 



into the enclosure around the nearest house, and 
said, " This is the end. Above us there are no 
more houses; the trail stops here; the bull can 
go no further; the Indians have run away; 
there is no one to carry your things; if you 
were the Devil himself, you could not reach the 
top of the ridge alone. Order breakfast, and 
we will go back." 

I considered a moment, then I told one of the 
men to stay and cook breakfast, and that I would 
go with our mountain guide and my servant a 
little farther up, and at least see the base of 
the main range. Then I took a cake of brown 
sugar in my pocket, left a frightened man be- 
hind me, and with the two others started on, 
saying we would be back before breakfast was 

We had gone some distance when my guide 
pointed out a round peak below the main ridge, 
saying that we could go up there, and that he 
had taken scientists, particularly botanists, that 
far, and, if I wished, we could go over there 
and climb it, though it would be hard work. 

I didn't want this, and had other plans ; so 
saying that I wanted to see the rocks, we kept 
on, going gradually higher along the base of 



the main range. To my intense disappointment, 
a fog began to gather, and it seemed useless to 
go further. Just ahead of us there was a great 
pyramid of granite, a mountain in itself, stand- 
ing up against the main range. I thought if 
I could only have reached that point before the 
fog came, I would have been satisfied. 

I turned reluctantly back, pausing for a mo- 
ment to watch the fog-banks, as the wind swept 
them in eddying curves up the peak of granite 
just above me. Then I noticed that, as these 
fog-banks came against the rocky mass and were 
carried whirling upward by the wind, they faded 
away before reaching the top ; and I turned 
back up the mountain again, feeling sure that 
the day was clearing, and telling the guide that 
I wished to see that mass of rock. He said we 
would be lost in the fog ; that it was dangerous ; 
we were on the paramo now, and he would not 
be responsible. I made no answer, but pushed 
on, and by the time I reached the precipice at 
the foot of the granite peak, the fog was rap- 
idly disappearing as if for my special benefit, 
though it hung about the lower peaks all day, 
and I did not have a very extended view. On 
reaching the precipice, I found that I could 



make my way along its base over masses of 
fallen rock, and that this would lead me along 
the western side of the peak and directly up 
toward the main range. 

It was hard climbing in the rarefied air; the 
guide grumbled violently, and presently my serv- 
ant gave out. He had the strength of an ox, 
but his weight was against him. I had no time 
to wait, and, after about an hour more, stood on 
the side of the main range with the granite peaks 
just below me. 

There was a ledge of rock and precipice fur- 
ther to the west, and, thinking that I could climb 
along its base to still higher elevations, I started 
as well as I could, making my way toward it 
over the broken masses of rock. 

My guide gave a cry of rage, hurried past 
me, and sat down as if to bar the path, saying, 
decidedly, " Senor, we go no higher." 

I protested angrily, and ordered him on. 

" Not I," he replied ; " we are on the upper 
paramo, all bare rocks and unknown country; 
no one has been here, not Spaniard, American, 
or Indian; I go no further." 

I ordered him on again. 

" I will not go," he said ; " you are not rea- 



sonable. I have taken scientific men in the moun- 
tains a great many times. They don't ask to 
come to these places ; they go where it is known, 
and where they can carry their provisions ; then 
they spend a few days, collect their plants, but- 
terflies, rocks, whatever they want, and go back 
contented, but you, you go on as if you thought 
yourself the equal of the Devil; he might go 
up there, a man could not." 

I told him to hold his tongue. " But suppose 
the fog comes," he protested, " how will we get 
down? To spend the night here on the paramo 
would be death ; be reasonable and come away." 

I hesitated at this, he seemed so much in ear- 
nest; perhaps I was not reasonable. Then I 
looked up at the dark ridge of massive rock and 
the snow peaks glistening in the sun. What if 
I could never come again.'' That was enough. 
I told him to sit where he was, so that I could 
call to him when I came down, and then I hurried 
on. It was slow work at first, but after a time 
I got over the broken rocks, and made my way 
along the base of the second precipice, getting 
higher up at every step, and presently I came 
to a broken place in the rocks, where I managed 
to climb up to the overhanging ledge, and there 



found very easy walking to a smaller precipice. 
To reach this and climb over was not difficult, 
and then I saw before me a sloping terrace 
standing along the main range, with the rocks 
and snow-covered elevations of the backbone 
of all the mountains rising directly above it. 
There was a little soil caught here, and an 
abundance of coarse grass growing among the 
shattered pieces of granite that were lying all 
about. A group of wild cattle quietly feeding 
on the terrace seemed surprised, but not alarmed, 
at my coming among them. 

It was an easy thing now to hurry across this 
sloping terrace to the rocky ridge and clamber 
up at a convenient point, and then sit down in 
a place exposed to the sun, where the rocks were 
slightly warmed and comfortable. Around me 
there were ridges of solid rock and snow, irreg- 
ular peaks, some above and some below me. 
Where I sat, one leg almost hung over a black 
abyss, made where the ridges came together. 
It looked dark and threatening, and one could 
only shrink away in dread of it. I could hear 
the sound of waters which I could not see rush- 
ing along in its depths, and great stones kicked 
over with my foot, as I sat there, disappeared 



and fell so far that I could not hear any sound 
of their striking on the bottom ; across this deep 
place there was a blue glacier, and a little fur- 
ther on the white peak of the Ahorqueta rose over 
a thousand feet above me, glistening in the trop- 
ical sun. A mantle of fog hung about the lower 
mountains, and I could see nothing of the low- 
lands, but, shut in apart from all the world, was 
alone among those mighty mountains ; and I 
was so very little, the silence was so deep and 
unchanging, that I scarcely dared to move, sit- 
ting in awe as of some great presence that might 
have been disturbed at my intrusion. I sat there 
a long time, when I became used to my sur- 
roundings, and began climbing about among the 
rocks ; but it was difficult work, and in that rare- 
fied air it was an effort even to raise my hand 
to my head. After a time I noticed that the 
surface of the fog was swelling up, and falling 
away again, in great, white billows. It was a 
fascinating sight, but I could easily see that 
it was creeping steadily closer, and knew that 
it was time to return to my guide. 

I started at once, hurrying on down the moun- 
tain, and presently began calling, but there was 
no answer. I hurried on, still calling, but only 



the echo of my voice came mocking back, re- 
peated from crag to crag and across the open 
spaces among the mountains. Could it be pos- 
sible that I had lost my way? I called again 
and again, but there was no answer. 

Then I stopped calling, and after considering 
a moment began retracing my steps till I could 
find some point that I was sure I had seen com- 
ing up; but now everything was changed and 
confused. It was not that I had lost the general 
direction, — the streams and mountain ridges 
indicated that, — but the question was to find 
the path down among those rough, bare rocks. 

I noticed now that the fog was growing 
alarmingly. A night in the snow on the upper 
paramo is dangerous; I knew that well, and I 
had nothing but sugar to eat. I saw that I 
would have to make a dash for it in an effort 
to reach lower elevations before the fog closed 
in around me. I hurried on, taking advantage 
of any opening among the rocks, and presently 
saw far below me the granite peak that had 
attracted my attention coming up. It looked 
nothing but a great pointed boulder now, rest- 
ing on the side of the mountain, but this was 
a landmark, and I seemed to make better prog- 



ress. After a time I called again to my guide, 
but, as before, the mocking echoes were my only 

I went on, becoming more alarmed every min- 
ute as the fog rolled steadily in on me ; but I 
was drawing closer to the granite peak, and a 
little further on was delighted to meet my ser- 
vant, who was making poor progress, and fre- 
quently stopping for rest. I asked anxiously 
for the guide, fearing that he might have gone 
up the mountains and become lost trying to look 
after me; but my anxiety was turned to indig- 
nation when my servant told me that the guide 
had rested a long time, and then started indif- 
ferently down the mountain. He had told my 
servant that I would certainly be killed, and 
that he for one was going back to have some- 
thing to eat, and that, as I would go up the 
mountain, I could come down alone, or die up 

On hearing this, my servant had come up to 
look for me; he was making poor work of it, 
but I was glad enough to have him. We hur- 
ried on down the mountain, and presently caught 
sight of the guide far below me, and a little 
beyond him could see the trail winding down the 



range. He was taking it leisurely enough, and 
stopping now and then to pick herbs, which he 
sold for medicine in the lower valleys, and I 
could see that he had quite a bundle of them. 

I called, but he was too far below to hear 
me; then I sent a big stone crashing down the 
mountain. He heard this, though it did not 
come anywhere near him, and he stopped, look- 
ing up in alarm. He saw us, and I pointed my 
rifle at him, and then he stopped in good earnest. 
We hurried on, and just as the fog closed in 
around us, we reached him; if we had delayed 
only a few minutes longer, results might have 
been serious. 

There was nothing to say; I simply ordered 
him to take us to camp, and keep his mouth shut. 
Whenever he spoke, I simply repeated this order, 
and presently he became decidedly alarmed. 
The fog gathered thicker and thicker, and by 
the time we reached camp it was growing very 
dark. There we found the man I had left to 
cook frightened almost out of his wits, feeling 
sure that we had all been killed, and satisfied 
that the Indians would soon come and murder 

He had a lot of rice, peche peche, and veg- 



etables cooked together, and, as brown sugar 
is light diet for a day's work, we all ate heartily. 
Then we went to bed. I had a frightful 
headache, and for a time was afraid that I would 
be seriously sick, but after awhile I fell asleep, 
and in the morning was better; and what a 
morning that was, the air so perfect, the sky 
so clear and blue, and the mountains standing 
in bold outline, free from all fog or clouds. It 
seemed a shame to leave such a place; we had 
plenty of brown sugar and some rice left, and 
I hesitated about going down the mountains. 
While I was considering, I heard my guide say^ 
ing, " Now we know he is crazy," and my ser- 
vant gravely proposed to strap me on the bull 
with the cargo, and so take me down out of 
danger. Of course they would never have dared 
to do it; but when my servant earnestly ad- 
vised me to give it up, and told me that to stay 
on the paramo without proper food was a real 
danger, pneumonia and fevers frequently re- 
sulting, I decided to start for the settlements; 
because it was only reasonable, and the advice 
of a man who had taken the risk of coming to 
my assistance when he thought I was in danger 
was worth considering. 



Returning to Pueblo Viejo was not difficult, 
and after resting a short time I explored various 
places among the lower mountains, but without 
particular incident. 





Having seen the mountains, I now started 
along the coast, in a canoe once more, but this 
time it was quite safe. There were no rocks, 
and the wind blew mostly off the shore, so that 
we were protected by the land; and at places 
the sea was so smooth that the men hitched a 
long rope to the canoe, and walked along the 
shore, towing it after them, much in the manner 
of a canal-boat. For two days we made our 
way along the coast, and then came to the city 
of Rio Hacha, an hospitable place, a typical 
trading town; where Indians came and went, 
bringing produce, and the merchants were do- 
ing a thriving business, trading and bartering. 

I found kind friends in the city of Rio Hacha. 
but the place itself was uninteresting. The 
country surrounding it was low and arid, a des- 
ert almost, and I was shortly anxious to make 
further explorations. 



When I proposed to go along the coast of the 
Goajira Peninsula, and look up the pearl fisher- 
ies, my friends shook their heads. The Goajira 
Indians are dangerous people, and I have light 
eyes, a feature particularly distasteful to them, 
and, according to my friends, always rather in 
disfavour among the aborigines of the tropical 

The Goajiras have been known to suddenly 
attack a person with light eyes, even when meet- 
ing peaceably for friendly barter. The cry is 
raised, " Eyes like a cat," " Let us kill it," and 
sometimes they do kill without further provoca- 

But in spite of warning, I prepared my expe- 
dition, and we started late one afternoon from 
the city of Rio Hacha, launching a clumsy canoe 
through the low surf, and were presently making 
good progress along the coast under a light, 
favourable wind. When night came, the men 
said we would go on shore and sleep near some 
Indian houses that we could see a little distance 
inland. I asked if it would not be dangerous. 
" For you, yes," said the leader, " but with us 
you will be safe." So without further words 
the canoe was taken ashore, and we made our 



way toward the Indian houses, where everything 
was now dark, except the smouldering embers 
of their fires. The moon was shining uncertainly 
through light, drifting clouds, all the country 
was silent, and the houses loomed up dark and 
mysterious above the flat, open ground of the 
plain. The men walked boldly to the village, 
I following, my head filled with the stories I 
had heard of the savage nature and cruelty 
of these Indians. Presently we were greeted by 
the united howling and barking of all the dogs 
in the place, and by the time we reached the 
houses a number of men had come out, with 
guns, knives, and bows and arrows in their hands. 
A word from the leader of my party, and grunts 
of satisfaction came from the Indians, who now 
began to look me over unpleasantly, but a few 
words of explanation and they seemed satisfied. 
Then they talked for awhile with my men, gave 
us fresh water and fire-wood; and with these 
we went away, made a camp on the beach, and 
slept as if there was no such thing as an Indian. 
Very early next morning I was awakened to 
find everything on board the canoe, and the men 
ready to start again. We travelled until the 
sun became very hot, and then stopped for 



breakfast at a convenient beach, where we 
expected to rest during the heat of the day. 
and then go on in the afternoon, camping 
again late at night. Where we stopped 
there were shallow lagoons covering considerable 
ground, desolate-looking places, but filled with 
quantities of herons, egrets, flamingoes, etc. ; 
the different colours, brown, gray, pink, and 
white, standing out in sharp contrast against the 
dull water of the lagoon. I began to explore 
about, but the men objected decidedly, saying 
that if I went out of their sight I did so at my 
own risk ; and as to their going with me, it would 
do no good; they had no control or influence 
over the Indians living near by ; that they were 
a bad, dangerous lot; and, if any came along, 
we would take to the canoe, and go on our way. 
With such a recommendation for the place, I 
was naturally careful, though I wandered around 
a little, and did not see even the sign of an In- 
dian. After a time we went on again, continuing 
for two days without incident till we came to 
the place where the Indians dive for pearls. 
Here we went on shore, and waited. There was 
nothing but a trail and two canoes drawn upon 
the beach to mark the place. After waiting 


some time, I wanted the men to go call the In- 
dians. They said that it would be no use; that 
the Indians had seen us coming and would come 
themselves just as soon as they were ready, and 
not a moment sooner. 

About an hour later we saw a man coming 
down the trail, and then a little time more, and 
about fifteen to twenty men and women had 
gathered around us. After they had talked 
awhile, my men said that they were satisfied, and 
would bring me specimens of pearls in a short 

Then two of the Indians went out in a canoe 
and began to fish, the others sitting indolently 
about. I wanted my men to urge them to begin 
diving for pearls ; but they told me that the 
Indian law of hospitality required that they 
should make me a present first, and so I had to 
wait. Presently they came in with a basket of 
fresh fish, which was duly presented to me, and 
then all the Indian men took to the canoes, and 
began vigorously diving for pearl shells. 

They worked with great energy but without 
system, each man for himself. Whoever hap- 
pened to be in the canoe used the paddle with- 
out regard for those who were in the water. 



yet, as they were not diving to very great depth, 
none had to swim far to overtake the canoe, and 
all seemed contented. 

The canoes were paddled along very slowly, 
the naked Indians peering over the sides seek- 
ing to distinguish bunches of pearl shells cling- 
ing among corals and marine plants. 

The Goajiras are stalwart fellows of stocky 
build, with great chest development attesting 
their vigorous lungs, yet their diving was not 
remarkable; they simply splashed into the 
water. I have seen ^iiany American boys who 
could do much better, though the continued 
work, diving again and again without stopping 
to rest, gave evidence of strength which few 
can rival, and I doubt whether any American 
boy could keep with the Indians, even though 
they did splash in more like big Newfoundland 
dogs than expert divers. 

It was an animated scene — four canoe-loads 
of Indians, men of magnificent build, diving 
continuously into water blue as a clear sapphire 
and clear as an inland lake, the intense sunlight 
of the tropics casting a glare over it all, and 
causing iridescent reflections of blue to go 
shimmering over the water in sharp contrast 



to the dull green of the grassy plains along 
the shore. 

After some hours the Indians came in with 
a large quantity of the shells, and without fur- 
ther ceremony began opening them, which they 
did very skilfully, from time to time picking 
out a pearl and putting it in their mouths. 

As they worked, they answered all my ques- 
tions about the number of pearls they usually 
secured, the depth of water in which the shells 
were found, the size of the shells, and many other 

When all the shells were opened, trading be- 
gan. We had tobacco, sugar, print cloths, 
worsted, and such things. The Indians would 
bring a pearl, or perhaps several of them, and 
make an offer for exchange, naming the things 
wanted. Sometimes we took the offer and some- 
times not, and when the things Risked were not 
given, the Indians would go away a little dis- 
tance, consult together, and in a short time 
would come back offering new combinations of 
pearls, and asking different things in exchange. 
When an Indian was successful in making a 
trade, the others looked on approvingly, but 
if not, his defeat was greeted with shouts and 



derisive laughter. They were perfectly good- 
natured about it, and kept on consulting to- 
gether and offering till all their pearls were 

There was one Indian who had a rough pearl 
not worth anything, and too old and worn to be 
of any service as a specimen. He offered it 
again and again, but I always declined it ; and, 
finally, he wanted one cigarette for it, but even 
this was declined. Then he set up mimic cry- 
ing, and made sport for all his friends, and 
especially for my men. When he had finished, 
he made me a present of the pearl, and I made 
him a present of a package of cigarettes, and 
we were both well pleased. 

While the trading was going on, the women 
had cooked the pearl mollusks, and the Indians 
fell to eating greedily. I had never known that 
they were good eating, and asked my men if the 
Indians would not give me some. The request 
was not completed before they hurried to me with 
all I could possibly eat, and urged me to take 
more, saying that they did not know that a 
white man would eat them. I did, though, and 
found them very good, in flavour resembling 
an escallop, a little sweeter, and with a peculiar 



flavour that left a harsh feeHng in the mouth 
that was not exactly pleasant. 

After the Indians went away, we travelled 
on for a time, and finally stopped at another 
place, where we slept on shore, but did not learn 
anything about the pearl fisheries, because the 
wind was blowing, and the Indians could not 
dive. Then we pushed on to the Cabo de Vela, 
and slept in the canoe till morning, the men 
saying it was not safe to land till we could see 
what was going on. There was considerable 
noise on shore that could be heard plainly, and 
the men thought we would probably have to 
return without seeing the Indians, but in the 
morning everything was quiet, and we went up 
to the landing-place, where there was a single 
house, and were soon made welcome. I ex- 
changed sugar that had cost fifteen cents for 
a fat sheep, and we prepared to make ourselves 

, Nothing could be learned about the pearls, 
and no specimens were to be had, because the 
wind was still blowing. I wanted my men to 
take me on further to examine a point of rocks, 
but they refused, saying they had come as far 
as had been agreed, and proposed to rest. 



A number of Indians had gathered around, 
and, finding that one, an Indian boy, could 
speak Spanish, I made arrangements to have 
four of them take a canoe and go with me on 
to see the rocks. 

The leader of my men looked aghast. " They 
will certainly kill you," he said. " I must go 
along, too, and yet I don't fancy the hot sun; 
better not go. I have brought you here, you 
are safe, and this is the end of my contract." 

I looked at the Indians and liked their ap- 
pearance, and said to the boy : " My man says 
you may kill me, but I think I can trust you." 
The boy translated, and the Indians looked 
pleased. My men, seeing that I was going, gave 
a groan of protest, and prepared to follow me; 
but I would not have it, and proposed to go 
alone with those Indians, and I was not disap- 
pointed in them. Whatever I wanted to see, 
and in all that I wanted to know, they were 
ready to do their best for me. After I had seen 
the pearl banks as well as we could, and had 
visited their fishing-grounds, I asked to be taken 
out beyond the point to where some great waves 
were breaking about a series of detached rocks, 
and thousands of sea-birds were constantly com- 



ing and going. The boy translated my request. 
The Indians looked at the rocks doubtfully, 
but presently began paddling slowly toward 
them. As we drew nearer, they seemed to gain 
confidence. " Nobody hear," said the boy, " we 
can go on," and presently we were riding the 
great waves just outside the circle of foam, 
where they dashed against the rocks. Then 
from behind one of the rocks came three canoe 
loads of unfriendly Indians. They were intent 
on fishing, and did not notice us at first. " Keep 
still," whispered the boy, " and we will get away 
behind the rocks." Immediately the Indians saw 
us. " Go forward," I said, making a violent 
gesture with my hand, to indicate the way I 
wished to go. The men obeyed immediately; 
perhaps they thought that I had some special 
means of defence to be so confident ; but, in 
truth, my heart was beating the wrong way 
from fright; sometimes up in my throat, and 
again down in my boots. A moment of sus- 
pense, and the canoes came together. I stood 
up, looked the men over gravely, asked to see 
their fish, and told the boy to buy some for me, 
which he did. Perhaps my apparent confidence 
impressed them, and for a time we floated lazily 



on the waves, I keeping them busy answering 
questions, and presently, while we were still in- 
terested in each other, I motioned to my men 
to go on, and they obeyed immediately. For 
a moment or two the other Indians watched us 
intently; then they went quietly to work again 
fishing, and the danger was over. 

I asked the boy to take me on shore, where 
we walked about a little examining the rocks 
and getting specimens. The Indians would 
not let me go far from the boat, saying that 
across the ridge they had enemies, and it would 
not be safe. Soon I had all the specimens I 
wanted, and we went back to the canoe; and 
after paddling about a little more, went over 
to the hut again, where my men seemed much 
relieved at our coming. I paid the men in sugar, 
fifteen cents' worth to each, and gave the boy 
a string of beads with his share of the sugar. 
He was much pleased, but presently came and 
asked me gravely if I would allow him to give 
the beads to his little sister, as he had a string 
for himself, and then he added, apologetically: 
" The beads are a suitable kind for girls, but 
not for men." I was surprised to find such sen- 
sibility and honour in an Indian boy, and gave 



him two other strings of beads for his little 
sister, and a bright-coloured handkerchief for 
himself, which was quite suited to a man's use, 
and he was well contented. 

Presently he came running up to me, saying 
that his father would be willing to sell him, 
and wouldn't I like to buy him for myself; and 
he began telling me all the work he could do, 
and how well he would serve me; but I could 
not take him, and he was deeply disappointed. 
Perhaps I made a mistake. He was a strong, 
well-built lad of fifteen to sixteen, and a faith- 
ful, daring companion, such as he promised to 
become, cannot often be found. 

A few days later I returned to Rio Hacha and 
then went on to other places. 





After a short rest, I was ready to set 
out again, and went to make a brief study of a 
series of coal deposits about fifty miles south 
of Rio Hacha. There I became acquainted 
with a family of Indians, from whom I learned 
rather an interesting fragment of tribal history 
which seemed worth recording. I heard the 
story in disconnected portions, while the Indians 
told me of causes and dangers which had forced 
them to flee from their own country, and seek 
refuge in this distant place. To make the ac- 
count intelligible, I must first give some details 
of their every-day life and tribal organization. 

The Goajiras are different from most of the 
South American Indians, and more resemble the 
sturdy aborigines of the north ; there is a vague 
legend among them that many generations ago 



their people came from over the sea, and con- 
quered the country. They are divided into 
clans or castes, and again into families. The 
clan relationship is not very strong, but the 
family ties are rigidly maintained, and to offend 
one member of a family is to make enemies of 
them all. 

Unfortunately, they are of a quarrelsome na- 
ture, bloody contests are frequent, and some- 
times whole families are exterminated. One 
could write much in regard to the customs of 
these Indians, but, as I am writing of adventures 
only, I will tell only what I heard of one of 
their fights, filling in some of the details, because 
the story was but imperfectly told to me. 

The names of the clans only are given, but 
I do not wish to convey the impression that 
these Indians war with each other according 
to clan or caste, for this is not the case; their 
warfare is generally among families, though 
frequently the fighting will assume quite seri- 
ous proportions; and two villages, representing 
different families, will sometimes fight till one 
or the other is destroyed utterly. Their quar- 
rels principally originate through their eager- 
ness to possess a number of wives. Among them 



a man Is estimated for his inherited wealth; to 
have made money gives only inferior prestige. 
but there is a certain amount of importance 
attached to the possession of a number of wives, 
and a leading man among these Indians will 
maintain as many as he can. To secure wives, 
however, he must be successful beyond the aver- 
age. One wife is easily obtained, but to have 
more is something of an achievement. In the 
first place, when a Goajira Indian marries, he is 
required to provide an endowment for his wife, 
which must be paid in advance to her uncles, 
who put it out in cattle, to be carefully kept 
on the range till such time as the wife is di- 
vorced, or becomes a widow; then the property 
is turned over to her and her children, with the 
increase, and it usually amounts to a considera- 
ble provision. A Goajira Indian who desires to 
marry must not only be acceptable to the girl's 
family, but the endowment he provides must 
be sufficient to support her and her children in 
the condition to which she was born. Having 
once provided for the wife and her children, in 
advance, he can divorce her by simply directing 
that she take her property and go home to her 
mother; a woman then feels herself disgraced, 


and this serves to make them careful, and their 
domestic relations are well ordered, though the 
men have the most absolute authority. 

The strength and position of a family is 
increased by the number of wives provided for 
among them, consequently those who are enemies 
try to prevent marriages, while those who are 
friends endeavour to promote them; and the 
man who is to be married must have the courage 
to contend for his wife, as well as the position 
to make him acceptable, and the means to pro- 
vide for her. 

The Puinee are one of the strongest, as well 
as one of the most cruel, of all the castes of the 
Goajiras; and when Lorenzo, son of Lorenzo, 
the Chief, proposed to take to himself a second 
wife from a family of the Muichagua caste, 
belonging to a powerful village to the westward 
of their country, the men of an Uriana village, 
living between these two, determined that it 
should not be allowed ; for these Puinee and the 
Uriana villages had been at enmity, even in the 
times remembered by the oldest Indians. 

The Muichagua village was some distance 
from that of the Puinee, yet Lorenzo went and 
made all the arrangements among his new 



friends, and then returned in safety to receive 
the congratulations of his own people. Then 
he went a second time, successfully passing all 
the Uriana villages, and returned again, and 
in his village there was more rejoicing because 
Lorenzo, the younger, gave promise of equal- 
ling the daring and cunning of his father, 
Lorenzo, the Chief. 

But the men of the Uriana village were still 
to be dealt with, and did not remain idle. 
" What can Lorenzo want of his second wife 
before he is twenty years old.^^ " they said. 

" We must kill him or the girl," suggested 
one of the younger men. 

''^No, blood for blood, that will make the 
Muichagua village our enemies." 

" But they will be our enemies as soon as 
she marries Lorenzo." 

" Yet, if we can kill Lorenzo, it will not 
be ' Let him take a wife in his own village, and 
not increase our enemies.' The Muichagua vil- 
lage cannot lawfully avenge his death till after 
he is married. We must kill him first." 

This was the counsel of the older men, and 
so it was determined. Yet how? Lorenzo, the 
younger, was a dangerous man, and the Puinee 



village was strong. Finally, it was decided that 
Ramon, a daring member of the Uriana village, 
should go to the Muichagua country, and wait 
for an opportunity to meet Lorenzo, the 
younger, when he went again to see his intended 
bride. Ramon had two wives and two sons; 
one a rather stupid fellow of about eighteen, 
and the other, a boy of twelve or fourteen, 
straight as an arrow, and as wicked a little In- 
dian as ever ran naked over the plains of the 
Goajira country. Little Ramon was all excite- 
ment, and wanted to go with his father to help 
kill their enemy, but he had to content himself 
with helping to prepare the poisoned arrows, 
polishing his father's stout bow, and carefully 
oiling the string. 

Ramon was shortly prepared for his under- 
taking. His long hair was smoothed out, and 
a plaited band of straw, like the rim of an 
unfinished hat, was placed on his head, with 
a long red feather from the tail of a macaw 
standing exact at one side. He wore a string 
of coral beads, and among them hung three 
bullet-shaped charms made of red quartz, and 
known among the Indians as tumas ; these tumas 
are of various designs, and are found among 



the ancient groves in the Sierra Nevada de 
Santa Marta Mountains to the westward of the 
Goajira country, and certain rare shapes are 
prized by these Indians beyond any other of 
their possessions. 

Ramon owned three of the bullet-shaped type, 
and wore them with great pride. Besides the 
beads, he wore a knitted belt of red and black 
worsted, which held a narrow breech-cloth in 
place; otherwise he was entirely naked. A 
bunch of poisoned arrows was thrust between 
his belt and skin on the left side; and with 
a stout bow in his hand he set out, followed 
by a slave who carried a bundle containing two 
robes of fresh white cotton embroidered around 
the edge with red worsted. 

There was little ceremony of leave-taking, 
and Ramon was soon striding over the open 
country toward a thick group of tall cactus 
plants, and then on into a grove of acacia and 
divi-divi bushes; and after about half a day's 
travelling he arrived at the Muichagua village. 
As he went in among their houses, there was a 
loud barking of dogs; children ran screaming 
to their mothers, but Ramon walked on calmly 
unconcerned. He was not exactly among ene- 



mies, nor were they enthusiastic friends; yet 
he had nothing to do but go to the principal 
house, give his name and position, announce 
himself as a guest, and he was perfectly safe. 
More than this, everything that could be done 
was done for his entertainment ; the law of hos- 
pitality demanded it. Whoever did him harm 
did harm to his entertainers also, and amid all 
the feasting there was no appearance of what 
was in the thoughts of Ramon, as well as in the 
thoughts of those who entertained him; but 
this much was certain, no Puinee nor Uriana 
man could fight in the Muichagua village while 
both were guests. 

Meantime, Lorenzo, the younger, was expect- 
ing trouble. The Puinee are noted more for 
cruelty and cunning than for valiant achieve- 
ments, yet when they are in battle none are 
more daring. It was natural to suppose that 
their enemies would be preparing mischief, and 
Lorenzo was anxious to take a body of men and 
attack their village, so as to force them into 
acquiescence; but Lorenzo, the chief, was grow- 
ing old, and was more averse to open conflict 
than ever. " Kill an enemy whenever you can 



catch him." " We are kilhng more of them than 
they of us." " Let it go," he said. 

But Lorenzo, the younger, was not contented, 
and he determined to lay a trap for some of their 
Uriana enemies. So caUing one of his slaves, 
he bade him go to the Muichagua village, de- 
liver a message at the house where his intended 
wife was living, and return. Then Lorenzo 
secured the assistance of ten of his friends, tell- 
ing them that he was sure that their enemies were 
watching the Muichagua village, and would 
follow to attack his messenger while he was 
returning; not while he was going, because 
that would be an offence to the Muichagua vil- 
lage. The messenger was a good runner, and 
could probably keep well ahead of his pursuers, 
that is, unless they were mounted, of which there 
was small probability; and it would be an easy 
thing to kill some of them, as they passed by, 
intent on catching the messenger; then, with a 
part killed, the others could be easily overcome 
and disposed of. This plan suited Lorenzo's 
friends, and, sending the messenger on ahead, 
they cautiously followed, and in a few hours 
had hidden themselves among the acacia and 



divi-divi bushes along the road to the Mui- 
chagua village. There they waited. 

Ramon was quietly enjoying himself when 
the messenger appeared. With true Indian in- 
difference, much resembling that of the North 
American Indians, they looked at each other, 
and then went on with their own affairs. But 
in a few minutes Ramon got up and announced 
his departure, returning thanks for the hospi- 
tality he had received, and without more words 
walked rapidly away. The slave saw him go. 
and was alarmed, yet he was partially of good 
blood, and after considering a moment deter- 
mined to make a bold strike for rank in his 
village ; and, having finished his errand, started 
immediately to follow Ramon, but his adversary 
had disappeared. The slave looked cautiously 
about him while following on down the trail, 
and after a time came in sight of the acacia 
bushes where his masters were hidden. Then 
over toward the south country he saw three 
crouching forms following after him. He knew 
it was the enemy, and his first thought was one 
of exultation at the opportunity of distinction ; 
he would fight them all; but if he had been 
endowed with the courage for such a conflict 



he would long ago have won a place as the equal 
of those he served. For a time he stood his 
ground, but as the crouching forms drew nearer, 
he began to think that three to one was a too 
dangerous combat, so the next instant he took 
to his heels, and fled down the trail, his enemies 
following him, with Ramon in the lead. 

On they came directly into the trap. The 
messenger ran past his friends without even 
knowing of their presence; then came his pur- 
suers, and instantly a flight of poisoned arrows 
from among the acacia bushes came singing 
among them. There was no time to escape. 
Three arrows struck Ramon, and he fell for- 
ward on his face, tried to rise, but sank down 
again on his side, writhing in the agony of a 
poisoned death. One of the men was slightly 
wounded, and his end would be the more terri- 
ble. The other escaped, and with his wounded 
companion hurried toward their village. 

Then Lorenzo and his friends, seeing whom 
they had killed, gathered around the prostrate 
form of their enemy with cruel shouts of delight, 
and gave no heed to the retreating foe. Ramon 
knew that his end had come, and he closed his 
lips and made no plea for mercy, for it is not 



known among the Goajira Indians. All his 
frame trembled with the agony of the poison. 
He was going fast, and as he died Lorenzo set 
one foot in his face and derided his sufferings. 
Then in a little while it was all over, and Lo- 
renzo's party started in haste for their own 

Meanwhile the Uriana men who had escaped 
spread the news of the death of Ramon, and his 
people, wild with passion, started at once in 
quest of vengeance. Lorenzo expected this, and 
hurried on toward his own country, but when 
they had nearly reached the barren hills that 
marked the beginning of their lands they heard 
a company of horsemen following rapidly after 
them, and at least thirty mounted men, armed 
with poisoned arrows, were on their track. 
Lorenzo saw that there must be a fight, and 
made every effort to gain the first hills of his 
own country before it should begin, and in this 
he was successful. After passing over the first 
ridge he called a halt. Behind him he could 
see his pursuers, and must lay his plans quickly. 
He ordered two of the men to go over to the 
next ridge about three hundred yards distant, 
stop when half-way up, and wait till their ene- 



mies came over the first hill, and as they came 
in sight, to begin struggling on as if completely 
exhausted. Then he hid the other Indians on 
each side of the road and waited. Presently 
thirty or more horsemen came over the crest of 
the first hill, and hesitated, as if doubtful about 
entering their enemies' country, even though 
they were mounted; but seeing the two appar- 
ently exhausted fugitives, they set up a cry 
of " Blood for blood," and started after them, 
sending a shower of poisoned arrows as they 
went. The two men gained the top of the hill, 
and, lying down to protect themselves, began 
to drop poisoned arrows among their enemies. 
This was not expected, and threw the pursuers 
into some confusion ; and immediately from all 
around came poisoned arrows that fell with 
deadly effect. They were caught in a trap, and 
had no means of knowing with how many they 
must contend; but their thirst for blood was 
such that they crowded on, and killed the two 
Indians ahead of them; then, with many of 
their party wounded and dying, they turned 
along the crest of the hill, taking a little used 
trail for their own country. Lorenzo was not 
strong enough to continue the fight, so contented 


himself with such trophies as he could collect ; 
these consisted of three strings of beads, each 
with a bullet-shaped tuma taken from as many 
dead enemies, and with the three taken from 
the body of Ramon made six most precious 
trophies. Lorenzo's people prized a different 
shaped tuma more highly, but these they had 
taken were the kind most valued by their ene- 
mies, and were considered trophies worthy of 
any fight. 

Taking up their dead, they went directly to 
their own village, where the sight of the trophies 
and the bodies of the dead so inflamed the feel- 
ings of their kinsmen that even Lorenzo, the 
Chief, was ready for a direct attack on the vil- 
lage of their enemies, who now were most prob- 
ably all in confusion. The plans were quickly 
made, and late that afternoon some forty men, 
naked except for a narrow belt and breech-cloth, 
well mounted, and armed with bows and poi- 
soned arrows, were on the road seeking blood ; 
and toward sunset three parties, into which the 
company had been divided, began to close in 
on their enemy's village. Little Ramon, son 
of the Chief who had been killed, was out with 
his mother among some cactus plants beyond 



the village, to wrap his father's body in hides, 
where it would remain for a year or more, till 
the flesh had rotted away, after which the bones 
would be gathered up, washed, and placed in a 
clay jar, to be set aside with others of the fam- 
ily in some secret place. They had not suc- 
ceeded very well, and were planning how to 
make the bundle more secure, when little Ramon 
saw their enemies while they were yet some dis- 
tance away. Quick as thought, he hid his 
mother in a dry gully, and then ran to give the 
alarm. A shower of arrows was sent after him, 
but he was too far away, and he ran on, reach- 
ing the village some distance ahead of the enemy, 
and gave the alarm; but so many of the men 
were dying from poisoned wOunds that there 
seemed little hope for successful defence. The 
women and children ran screaming to the thick- 
ets, only to be cut down as their enemies closed 
in on them. None were spared, except the 
younger children, who were taken to be brought 
up as slaves, and who were made to look on at 
the trembling forms of their parents and rela- 
tives, writhing on the ground as the poison 
burned through their veins in an agony of death. 
The invaders were everywhere successful. The 


village made a brave defence, but its people were 
outnumbered, and it was not long before all were 
killed, but not without inflicting some loss on 
their enemies, and a number of the best men 
among the invaders lay trembling in the agonies 
of the poison. 

But little Ramon was not among the killed; 
before the fight had begun he had taken his 
other mother and stupid brother down a small 
gully near the village to the place where he had 
hidden his own mother ; after that he would have 
hurried back to help in the fight, but his people 
held him, saying he was far too young. Then 
while the combat was at its highest they all made 
their escape out through the gully to the bush 
country beyond, and as night came on they fled 
away in the darkness. A few days later they 
stopped at a remote place near the edge of the 
Spanish country, where their murderous enemies 
would probably never follow them. Here they 
were joined later by two or three men who had 
not been at home when the village was raided, 
and several women with five or six children who 
had escaped by hiding in the gullies. These were 
all that were left of a once prosperous Indian 



The invaders after their victory returned tri- 
umphant to their villages beyond the Cabo de 
Vela. Here some days were spent in feasting 
on the provisions taken from their enemies, and 
then word was sent that Lorenzo would go in 
three days to take away his wife. 

Preparations for this event were actively car- 
ried forward, and on the morning of the third 
day Lorenzo, dressed in new white robes em- 
broidered with red worsted along the edge, with 
a fine collection of tuma beads hanging around 
his neck, a clean band of plaited straw about 
his hair, and a gaudy feather from the tail of a 
macaw standing erect on the left side, was ready, 
with a party of friends similarly dressed, to go 
and claim his wife. He had a number of slaves 
with him, and a fine herd of sixty cows which 
were to be the price or security for his wife. 
This was the highest provision required by their 
laws, but she whom he was to take was a person 
of quality, as well as an Indian girl of rare 

The thirty miles between them and the village 
of the bride presented but little difficulty; the 
Indians were well mounted, while the cattle ac- 
customed to running wild are easily kept at 



a good pace. The company went slowly at 
first among the low hills and barren ridges of 
their own country, then more rapidly over the 
open plains where their enemies had lived, and 
finally came to the divi-divi bushes beyond which 
was the village they were seeking. Here they 
continued on, but at a slower pace, among the 
narrow trails that crossed and recrossed in every 
direction. At times they passed isolated ranchos, 
whose inmates immediately joined them, till the 
little party, now swelled to a goodly company, 
arrived at the village, where they were noisily 
welcomed. Then the provision and security for 
the well-being of his wife was delivered by 
Lorenzo, and received and taken note of by 
her uncles on her mother's side, who pronounced 
it liberal beyond all precedent, and of the finest 
young cattle. Then feasting began, while little 
parties of men, women, and children from the 
surrounding country kept arriving to join in 
the celebration, till a large company was gath- 
ered together. Then the chief man among the 
bride's people, who was also her father, said: 
" Lorenzo has provided well for the daughter 
of our village. He must not return empty- 
handed to his own country; let him choose a 


horse from among the best that we have." At 
these words the slaves ran and drove up a herd 
of thirty or forty horses, and Lorenzo picked 
out one, a well-built, steel gray animal that 
promised to do him good service. Then the 
chief said : " And the friends of Lorenzo, he 
will remember us better when he rides to battle 
if our horses carry his friends. Let him choose 
a horse for each of them." Then the eight 
or ten men who had accompanied him began 
to select from among the horses. It was a very 
businesslike transaction, but after active inves- 
tigation under Lorenzo's direction it was com- 
pleted to their mutual satisfaction, and feast- 
ing went on again. There was roast meat, curd 
cheese, parched corn, pearl oysters, fish, roasted 
meat, and a small allowance of tobacco and rum 
for each important man in the party ; but only a 
small quantity, because these things were diffi- 
cult to obtain. Then more presents were given 
to the bridegroom, and feasting was continued 
till everything was eaten that had been pro- 
vided for them, and when it was evident that 
no more presents were to be had, the visitors 
gathered their things together, took leave of 
their allies, and marched oflP, the slaves driving 


the new horses and carrying the presents. Lo- 
renzo rode by his new wife, admiring her beauty, 
but also taking special note of five large tumas 
that she was wearing. It was well along in 
the evening when they arrived at their village, 
and as every one was tired all were soon asleep. 

The next morning lazy Indians could be seen 
idling about the place, the women doing a little 
work, or picking lice out of each other's hair, 
the slaves tending the cattle, while most of the 
men were curled up in their little hammocks 
asleep, like animals. To all appearance they 
were a lazy, dirty, stupid lot of people, too 
indolent to ever think of rousing themselves 
or to do harm to anybody. This same morn- 
ing, away off near the base of the Black Andes, 
the remnant of their enemies were gathered to- 
gether looking to little Ramon as their coming 
Chief. It was a hard struggle for existence, 
but they did get along. They were out of the 
track of Indian parties, and near enough to the 
Spanish country to enable them to seek protec- 
tion if they were discovered ; but of this there 
was little danger, because their enemies be- 
longed to the seacoast far away. 

While I was examining the coal-mines of 



which I spoke at the beginning of this chap- 
ter, my guide said, " There is a party of fugi- 
tive Goajira Indians hving a little beyond here. 
Perhaps you would like to visit them." 

I replied at once that I would, and asked how 
it was that they were fugitives. 

" There was a big fight over toward the 
cape," he said, " and these people are all who 
escaped out of the party that got the worst 
of it. They are a bad lot, those Goajiras, and 
it's a pity that they don't keep on fighting till 
the whole of them are killed off." 

We soon arrived at the Indian village, which 
consisted of three little, rectangular, thatched 
huts, made by driving posts in the ground. 
Our appearance caused some excitement at first, 
and one of the two men belonging there caught 
up a bow and bunch of poisoned arrows, but 
seeing that we came as friends the arms were 
laid aside, and we were made welcome. 

Evidently they were poor Indians, and not 
very interesting; but there was a fine-looking 
elderly woman and a very pretty young girl. 
Presentl}^, an almost naked boy of some four- 
teen years came walking gravely into the vil- 
lage. He carried a bow and arrows and a bunch 



of game that he had killed. He came at once 
to welcome us, handed the game to the elderly 
woman, went and put on a well-worn robe, and 
then coming to us again, stood gravely, but said 
nothing. He wore his robe with so much un- 
assumed, quiet dignity, and was such a splendid 
boy, with muscles appearing as strong as steel 
wires, that I was interested in him immediately. 
Then he asked me what I had come to do. 

I told him of the specimens I wanted, and 
his face lit up with boyish delight, and all his 
dignity was forgotten, as he eagerly proposed 
to accompany me, and show where I could find 
all sorts of interesting things. 

His robe was quickly changed for belt and 
breech-cloth, and as he gathered up his bow 
and arrows, I asked why he did not take some 
of the long ones with slender black tips. 

" Those are poisoned arrows," he said, and 
brought one to show me. I put out my hand 
to take it, but he drew back, saying, " It is 
best not even to touch it; the white strangers 
have thin skins, and the poison is strong." 

Then as we went away toward the river, I 
asked him why he wanted so many poisoned 
arrows. " We have enemies," he said, " and 



the time may come when we can gather some 
men together and use them. I want many, but 
they are hard to make, and it is slow work." 

Then he told me how he had to search till he 
caught three of the most poisonous snakes; a 
rattlesnake, a coral-snake, and a golden mouth, 
a kind of moccasin; these were all shut in a 
clay jar till they bit each other to death. Then 
the cover was luted on with clay, and the jar 
was buried for fifteen days, and when the snakes 
became a putrid mass, with which the deadly 
poison from their fangs was mingled and fer- 
mented, the arrow-tips of bane or hard wood 
were dipped in it, and allowed to dry, and then 
redipped till they became coated with a poison 
so virulent that the least scratch would cause the 
most violent death. On the way out the boy, 
Ramon, stopped to show me a jar of the poison 
that he had under preparation. Then I asked 
him about the enemies he was so anxious to kill, 
and he told me the story that I have written, 
and as we walked along he showed me so much 
about the country that was interesting, and 
found so many specimens that I wanted, that I 
said, " Ramon, I wish I had a boy like you to 
work for me." 



" Do you ? " he answered, all eagerness. 
" Would you buy me, and teach me how to 
use a rifle against my enemies, and be wise like 
a white man ? " 

I explained that I could not buy him, but he 
still pressed the matter, saying, " I would not 
cost much, just enough for my mother to have 
till I came back all grown up. My brother 
and the working men could take care of them- 

He would certainly have been a valuable ac- 
quisition, but it was quite impossible for me 
to buy him and become responsible for bring- 
ing him up; and he seemed so much disap- 
pointed that I told him to come and see me some 
day at Rio Hacha, where I expected to remain 
several weeks. 

When we went away the Indians made us a 
present of vegetables and game, and the next 
day I sent them a handful of nails, a package 
of sugar, and a ball of twine. I heard after- 
ward that they were embarrassed by my liberal- 

About two weeks later I was sitting in my 
house at Rio Hacha late one night writing. 
My pistol was at my side, and the negro boy 



who attended my rooms had gone to sleep and 
was snoring vigorously. The little city was 
all silence except for low waves washing up 
along the beach, and I thought how lonely it 
was as I looked out at the dim moonlight re- 
flected on the white sand; when suddenly the 
slender form of Ramon, the Indian boy, ap- 
peared at my window, scarcely disturbing the 
silence; then, with a gesture that bade me keep 
quiet, he came softly in and closed the door 
behind him. " I had to come at night," he said. 
" Some of our enemies from beyond the cape are 
in the city, and they would kill me if they 

He had travelled forty or fifty miles on foot 
to see me. What a boy! I put him in my 
hammock, and went softly to get him something 
to eat, taking care not to disturb my negro 
servant, because it seemed best that none should 
know of my Indian visitor. He ate all that I 
had in the house, which would have been too 
much for an ordinary person; but a healthy, 
growing Indian has a capacity unlimited. Then 
he talked again of my buying him, earnestly 
entreating; but I could not do it, and told him 
how it was my business to go about among 



distant countries, and he saw that it could 
not be. 

Then he whispered, " There are men from 
beyond the cape in the city. I know where they 
sleep; we could kill them all." But I could 
not help him in this, either, and explained that 
the white men had different laws, and advised 
him that he was too young to even think of 
fighting his enemies, that they were too many 
for him, and even if he should kill some, the 
others would track him down, and that would 
be the end of his family. Then he became 
silent, and lay back in the hammock, while I 
sat beside him. He was near his enemies, but 
was too weak to attack them, and as he lay there 
his chest heaved, his eyes became more brilliant, 
and his lips rigid. He was sorrowing and griev- 
ing for his dead, not with weepings and lamen- 
tation, but after the manner of his people, with 
hate. I could see it burning in his eyes and 
throbbing in his temples; and what an all- 
consuming hatred it was ! I became alarmed 
for the boy, and knowing how the Indians prized 
the red stone beads called tumas, I went to my 
collection and selected one shaped something 
like a conical bullet, with the hole drilled across 



through the larger end. I gave it to him, and 
he was immediately all smiles again, but the 
next instant he looked at me with wondering 
eyes and said, " Senor, you could buy me with 
this. I cannot take a gift so valuable." I put 
a string through the bead and hung it about 
his neck, telling him to wear it in my remem- 
brance. Then he said proudly that no one 
should take it from him while he lived, that it 
was the shape most prized by his family, and 
I would never need to be ashamed of him. The 
next moment he said that it was time for him 
to start, as he must be well on his road before 
his enemies were about. 

" But, Ramon," I said, " it is night-time ; 
think of the snakes, the jaguars, the panthers, 
and other dangerous things." He only laughed 
lightly at this, picked up his bow, shoved the 
arrows in his belt, and went quietly to the door, 
and I watched him steal softly out in the pale 
moonlight; but before turning away, he stood 
a moment looking back at me, only a half -naked 
Indian boy standing alone in the night. Then 
he waved his hand and was gone, and I said 
to myself as I closed the door, if ever he grows 
up his enemies will hear from him. Then I fell 



to thinking of the strange life of the Indians, 
and how different their ways are from our ways, 
and their thoughts from our thoughts; and 
how soon they will all be gone, and how much 
of their lore and legends, their customs, and 
even their names will be lost, and for ever un- 

I have a sequel to this story. I never ex- 
pected to see Ramon again, but I did see him 
some four years later, when I returned to the 
country for other investigations. Ramon was a 
boy no longer, and the promise for a bright 
future had gone from him for ever. He was 
weak, he was diseased, a slave among the people 
he had hoped to vanquish. He was passing 
my door and stopped as if to speak to me, but 
a sharp order from his master, and he went de- 
jectedly on; and as he went the expression of 
a drunkard was all too plain, evidence unmis- 
takable in his face and in every movement, and 
the tuma he had accepted with such pride, that 
I should never be ashamed of him, it was gone; 
yet what drunkard has ever been able to main- 
tain his honour? Looking after Ramon, deeply 
regretful, I kept thinking. Oh, the traders, the 
traders, why will they for ever take rum among 



the Indians? And I could not help but think 
of a judgment to come, " when earthly things 
made even atone together," and to wonder what 
penalty those men should pay who for such a 
little thing, the profit on the rum that Ramon 
would drink, had destroyed a life of so much 

In this story the spelling of the Indian names 
is phonetic, adopting the sound so nearly as may 
be to the English language. I do not wish to 
convey the idea that the different castes among 
these Indians fight together and against each 
other as clans. The continued strife is between 
families and villages, without much regard to 
their castes, and among them to-day caste dis- 
tinctions are dying out, though formerly they 
were strong. 




I DID not remain long in Rio Hacha, but 
went again to the coal-mines, intending to go 
across the country after I had finished my ex- 
aminations, and travel as far as Bogota. 

Where the coal-mines are located is a great 
valley between the Painted Andes and the Sierra 
Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains. The val- 
ley was intensely hot, low lying, and, at many 
places, stony and arid. At such points cactus 
plants grow to unusual size, and in such great 
abundance that they form a forest crowded so 
close together at some places that one seems shut 
in from all the world. Here there is no other 
vegetation, and the land is silent, the cactus 
plants stand motionless, the heat is intense; 
though in some places the growth is so thick, 
and the plants so tall, that the sun is shut out, 



and a grateful shade is formed. Riding on 
through a forest of these great cactus plants, 
following a trail on its winding course through 
their crowded growth, the strange forms, the si- 
lence, the sharp contrasts of shadows and burn- 
ing sunlight, and the cave-like surroundings 
where the cactus have grown over thick, give 
one an impression as of another world, or as 
if, in fancy, one were passing on through an 
unknown region of the ocean depths, so strange 
and so unreal it all appears. 

It was a rough life in the valley, but the 
strange surroundings made it attractive, and 
here I tarried for some days. After a time I 
became interested in a peculiar mountain called 
the Cerrajon, an abrupt formation standing in 
bold outline directly above the valley. 

The majordomo of my peons said it was not a 
difficult climb, but if I wished to reach the sum- 
mit it would require two days, as we would have 
to cross to the other side of the mountains, then 
up the main range and along the top of a ridge 
till we reached a point from which it was an 
easy matter to climb the Cerrajon. 

This did not suit me at all. I wanted to 
see if there was coal on the steep front of the 



mountain facing the valley, and so informed the 

" It is impossible, senor," he said ; " for 
birds and wild animals it can be, but it is not a 
place for men." 

" But I want to go there, and I wish to find 
a way, and you must come with me," I said, 

" I can go, but not to show the way," he said, 
adding, with a great show of politeness, " and 
if the Senor knows a path up the mountains, 
having never seen it, he can go to the top, and 
I can follow him." 

We started early the next morning, walking 
about five miles through the cactus and thorn- 
bushes to the foot of the mountain. Here the 
real climbing began. We had crossed several 
smaller mountains on our way, and were thor- 
oughly warmed to our work; yet it was a 
rough and tumble all the way to the top. We 
could never have reached it but for the bushes 
and small trees growing all over the side of the 
mountain ; we went up bracing our feet against 
these very much as one would climb a ladder. 
Sometimes we came to places where even this 
was impossible, and the majordomo would say 



with satisfaction that we had reached the Hmit, 
but by making our way carefully along the 
face of the mountain, I always found a place 
where we could go a little higher, and we kept 
going up and up till finally we came to a ledge 
of rock that appeared unsurmountable ; but we 
followed along its base for some distance, and 
finally came to a broken place where we had a 
rough scramble for a few moments, and then 
stood on the very summit. 

The majordomo was delighted, and told me 
that we were on ground where no man had 
ever been, a place the people of the valley had 
always considered entirely inaccessible. The 
scene before us was most beautiful, appearing 
almost as if I could take one step out into space 
and go falling to the valley below. Across this 
valley I could see all the Sierra Nevada de 
Santa Marta Mountains, their bold outlines 
dark in the lengthening shadows, and their 
white peaks glowing with colour under the fierce 
light of the tropical sun. 

I stood looking for a long while, till, finally, 
the majordomo reminded me that it was getting 
late, and camp was a long way off. 

Going down was a good deal like sliding off 



a barn roof and taking your chances, but after 
many scratches and bruises we got down safely, 
and then began a hard march to camp, where we 
arrived about nine p. m., thoroughly tired out. 

A big dinner was waiting, and after eating 
all I could, I went to bed; and as I fell asleep 
I heard the majordomo giving thrilling accounts 
of our adventures climbing up the Cerrajon 
Mountain to a point where he and his hearers 
agreed no human being had ever been before. 

A few days more in the valley, and I started 
on a long journey overland en route for the 
city of Bogota. I followed the valley westward 
to where it opened out into the great basin of 
the Magdalena River, passing on my way a 
series of cactus plains, mud-holes, acacia thick- 
ets, and, at frequent intervals, fertile regions, 
marked by the presence of thriving towns. 
After travelling for two or three days, we came 
in sight of the precipices for which the Painted 
Andes are named. The cliffs stand in rugged 
outline at the highest portions of the range, 
their faces banded by great stratification of 
alternate black and white extending horizontally 
all along the front of these precipices, a forma- 
tion so strange that it was startling, and so 



bold and clearly formed that we could see the 
great bands of black and white for many miles 
of our journey, looking exactly as if they had 
been painted along the upper portions of the 
mountains. I was anxious to visit those strange 
precipices, but this was impossible, for they 
marked the country of the Matolony Indians, 
a tribe so murderously disposed that on meet- 
ing them one must either kill or be killed; no 
one had ever penetrated so far among their 
mountains, and guides could not be obtained. 

Two days further on, one begins to encounter 
the swamps and lagoons of the Magdalena val- 
ley. On reaching that country I travelled 
mostly by canoe, and found the lagoons inter- 
esting, though of a dreary appearance, oppress- 
ive, blighting almost to one's spirits. I went 
over this country with some care, and examined 
many of the streams flowing into the Zapatosa 
Lagoon, the largest of all the interior lakes of 

There were no particular adventures, and 
everything went well with me till one afternoon 
when we stopped for the night at a little vil- 
lage. There my two guides promptly became 
intoxicated, and next morning they were in a 



bad condition to continue the j oumey ; ip fact, 
they were very drunk. I was told that, once 
in the canoe, they would take me safely enough ; 
the only difficulty would be to get them started. 
After some effort I succeeded in getting them 
in the canoe, though one of the men tumbled 
over the side while attempting to take his seat. 
We had a long trip before us, and the under- 
taking appeared rather dangerous with the two 
drunken men in a canoe that would turn over 
so easily that a person had to be careful and sit 
quietly all the time. 

The men did fairly well, though they would 
often fall asleep over their work and nearly 
upset the canoe, but somehow they would al- 
ways catch themselves just in time. We kept 
going on and on, now through a narrow channel, 
then out into a broad lagoon, or among a clus- 
ter of low, unhealthful islands, till finally we 
came to the great Zapatosa Lagoon. 

The men were tired now, and wanted to stop, 
saying that the weather looked threatening, and 
that a storm on the open lagoon in so frail a 
craft would be certain death. 

I thought that my men were more anxious to 
stop for the night at a little village we were 



passing than they were afraid of a storm, so 
I determined to push on, and presently we came 
out on a broad lagoon so large that our eyes 
could scarcely see across it, while in the distance 
ranges of mountains appeared as floating in 
the air above the water. 

Over the surface there was silence, and every- 
where a sense as of death; the yellow water 
was glassy in its repose, the intense, refracted 
sunlight adding to the illusion. In the un- 
healthful-coloured water were dead trees, groups 
of alligators, and here and there companies of 
aquatic birds. Along the shores there was deso- 
lation, dead trees, and struggling cane-brakes. 
My men forgot their laziness; they were work- 
ing now with the energy of fear. Swiftly the 
light canoe went forward, but there was no 
breeze, nothing to relieve the intense heat, — 
and such a burning heat; it seemed at times as 
though I could scarcely breathe. As we went 
on, I could understand the fears that the men 
entertained of this treacherous water, and in 
fancy I imagined the wild tumult of a sudden 
storm sweeping over that desolate lagoon. Suf- 
fering intensely from the heat, we pressed on, 
and after an hour or two had crossed a sort of 



bay in the lagoon, and then we came in the 
gathering darkness to a river, and on its black 
waters we were carried away into the night, 
till presently we came to a hut, and were soon 

The smaller lagoons are similar to the Zapa- 
tosa Lagoon, and of them there is little to be 
said. I continued some days in this region, 
making explorations, but without special inci- 
dent, and then went on my way, following the 
trails to the Magdalena River, and then, tak- 
ing a steamer, went up the river again as far 
as Honda, and from there I went across the 
mountains on foot to Bogota. 

On the road across the mountains there were 
no exciting incidents, only annoyances ; the 
way was tedious, the people inhospitable, the 
road-houses unclean, and their charges little 
short of robbery. 

Bogota is on the eastern side of a great in- 
terior savannah, an open grass plain at almost 
ten thousand feet elevation above the sea, a 
place of enchanting beauty, a broad expanse 
of open country surrounded by the bleak sum- 
mits of inner ranges of the Andes Mountains. 
But the city is a place of vermin and corrupting 



filth; a place where the common incidents of 
the streets are not fit to be described; where 
beggars, displaying revolting sores and rotting 
limbs, swarm about, even thrusting their filthy 
bodies where they may touch those who pass 
by, while they demand, not solicit, alms; where 
ill-mannered, arrogant, overdressed people make 
vulgar display of their clothes, as they strut 
about and crowd for precedence, making much 
of the antiquated custom of demanding a place 
next the wall, — a fad which caused continued 
misunderstandings, because all claimed the wall, 
and it was difficult to pass; for my part, I 
walked mostly in the streets, and left the side- 
walks to the natives. In Bogota one can see the 
sedan-chairs in active use, similar to those which 
are read about in historic accounts of periods 
some two or three centuries gone past. Here 
ladies, to show their piety and religious senti- 
ment, go about dressed as penitents in rough 
garment and belt of rope; but the dress is 
drawn tightly about them, that they may not 
touch the swarms of filthy people. 

One incident of the streets is ever vividly 
before me. I saw a boy, ragged and dirty, his 
hands tied firmly behind his back, his head a 



mass of sores, scabs, and filth from the lice of 
Bogota, called peojos by the natives. He was 
whimpering and crying, screaming at times in 
his distress. With his hands tightly bound, his 
parents led him about, soliciting alms, their 
hard faces showing too clearly that they were 
making a medium of the boy's sufferings to 
obtain money for themselves. I looked on in 
horror for an instant, and then asked some peo- 
ple with whom I was talking that they would 
excuse me for a moment, in order that I might 
give some money, and prescribe an ointment 
by which the boy could be cured. They laughed 
derisively, saying that I might give the money 
and the medicine; the parents would call down 
blessings on my head, but they would keep the 
money and sell the medicine, — the boy was too 
profitable for them to permit a cure. I hesi- 
tated: the blessings from such fiends would be 
more blighting than the deepest curses from 
decent people ; and as I hesitated, the boy gave 
a convulsive tug at his bonds, freed one hand, 
and immediately clutched at his itching, burn- 
ing head, dragging at it with such violence that 
a great patch of his scalp was torn off, exposing 
the skull. His parents bound his hands again, 




and with cruel looks of satisfaction led him 
on, blood dripping over his face, his cries of 
distress and the plaintive whine of his parents, 
as they asked pity for their misfortunes and 
the necessities of their suffering boy, adding 
horrid emphasis to his appearance of misery. 
The religiously-gowned ladies drew their gar- 
ments close about them, and looked aside that 
they might not see; their great houses were 
closed tight, and walled about; it was nothing 
to them; what did they care? How I longed 
for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Children. But I was a stranger in a city 
where I was quite unknown, and found but 
scant courtesy in ordinary affairs; what could 
I hope to do for a suffering boy, where the 
law made no provision, the citizens of the place 
gave no heed, and all the streets were filled 
with scenes of filth, misery, and degradation. 

Naturally I had but little desire to remain 
in the city, and finding the country people good- 
natured and trustworthy, I made frequent ex- 
cursions among the surrounding mountains, and 
out on the beautiful plains of the savannah. 

One morning I climbed the highest peak back 
of the city, and then made my way to still higher 



elevations some distance further on, and there 
I ascended a peak which just penetrated the 
frost line, and found ice collected on its sum- 
mit. Here was absolute solitude. For miles, 
north and south, were successions of elevations 
and ridges forming the interior ranges of the 
Andes Mountains. There were patches of red 
earth exposed on eroded surfaces, outcroppings 
of disintegrating rock, in colour a dull yellow, 
blending with the cold grays, dull browns, and 
doubtful green of the stunted vegetation; a 
great expanse of country, alone and desolate. 
The shadows of drifting clouds were in the air, 
a dusty haze hung over the distant ranges, and 
the sunlight seemed feeble, not strong to cheer. 
Damp cold was all over the mountains, a place 
of broodings and melancholy thoughts, of lone- 
liness and chill; but on the protected places 
below the rocks there were flowers, soft, delicate 
blossoms, profusely blooming, little gather- 
ings of joyousness and beauty, surrounded by 
the solemn expanse and desolate impressive 
silence of the unpeopled interior mountains of 

I remained a long time on this mountain peak, 
and then noticing a collection of huts on a 


table-land not far below it, I went down to tbem, 
asking permission to remain for the night; a 
request the humble proprietors readily granted, 
though they were distressed as to how they 
might entertain me, for with them bread and 
meat were rare luxuries; but on finding that 
I knew how to eat roots, as they expressed it, 
we were soon quite at ease. For supper there 
were yams, potatoes, carrots, and onions; that 
was all, but it was enough; and that night, 
with my cloak wrapped tightly about me, I slept 
under an open thatched shed in front of their 
huts, the damp cold of the night blowing in 
my face, and the silence of the mountains envel- 
oping all about me. 

Next morning I went on again, after liberally 
paying my friends for their attentions, for they 
were too poor, I knew, to extend hospitality 
unrewarded. To the southeast of the table-land 
there was a range of mountains, some distance 
away, but I crossed over to them, and, climbing 
up over the summits, came to the divide, where 
the streams turn east; and a little further on 
there opened before me a view of all the plains 
and lowlands of the headwaters of the Oronoco, 
spreading out in the distance even to the far- 



thest horizon. Here I rested for a time, and 
then turned again toward Bogota, not crossing 
the mountains, but following the trail across 
the table-land, which led to the city by easier 

Shortly after this incident, I left Bogota, 
making a second journey on foot across the 
mountains to the Magdalena River, a difficult 
undertaking, but richly repaid in specimens of 
interest and valuable information; for I was 
investigating the probable cost of railway con- 
struction. I was not sorry, however, when I 
was once more on board a steamer on my way 
down the river, en route for other places. 





Arriving at Barranquilla, I took a steamer 
for the island of Cura9ao, and from that time 
to the end of my journeys in the Caribbean re- 
gions there were no exciting adventures. I 
found at the Dutch West Indies a thrifty, hard- 
working people, a clean, well-ordered city 
(Williamstadt), and charming but unpreten- 
tious little villages. I found a place of cleanli- 
ness, security, and order, where the trade-winds 
sweep continuously over rugged cliffs, saturat- 
ing all the air with the salt and moisture of the 
blue sea, for deep water lies close against the 
islands ; a place in which to rest, recuperate, 
and watch the waves beating against the shore. 
I left the island with regrets, and went along 
the coast of Venezuela, stopping at different 
ports, but not remaining to make examinations, 



for in Venezuela security is not sufficient even 
in times of peace. The lands are rich, and the 
resources abundant, but the system of admin- 
istrations permits too many unjust, even ruin- 
ous exactions, and the riches of Venezuela had 
best remain where they are, and Americans had 
better not seek after them till we have a govern- 
ment at Washington that will protect our citi- 
zens abroad against the first aggression, rather 
than wait till some great act of violence is com- 
mitted, and then, when no service can come 
of it, make feeble protests. But the Americans 
abroad have no opportunity to vote, and what 
do the politicians at Washington care about 
them.'' Some years ago I met an American 
cruiser at a tropical port, and went to the cap- 
tain on behalf of some fellow citizens, soliciting 
aid in bringing a party of Americans from a 
point of great danger during a revolution. 
We did not ask for the expenditure of any 
money, but wanted an American officer to take 
the flag and go with an expedition we were 
fitting out to rescue our friends. But no, the 
captain's instructions from Washington were to 
do nothing: the Americans might be in ever 
so great danger, but he was to do nothing; 



if some of them were killed, he would, of course, 
take the matter up. In other words, until they 
were killed, it was of no consequence ; only dead 
Americans were of importance at Washington; 
alive they must take care of themselves. We 
brought the Americans out safely, but they lost 
a lot of property. A lesson to the Americans 
that they had better leave the more exposed 
places to be occupied by their European com- 
petitors. And for this reason I passed Ven- 
ezuela by, though its recources are magnificent. 

Americans take great risks in the Spanish 
republics; in some the risk is greater than in 
others. If only American lives, property, and 
interests were vigorously protected in those 
treasure-lands to the south of us, it would be 
worth $200,000,000 annually in trade to our 
country. I have seen all those lands, I know 
what I say. But Americans abroad do not 
come home to vote; what do the politicians at 
Washington care about them.? 

From the coast of Venezuela I went to the 
island of Trinidad, and there saw the progress 
and oppressive taxation common to all British 
Crown colonies. The government officials made 
good salaries and pensions, — all charged 



against the island's taxes ; the large landowners 
had in abundance, but the people were desper- 
ately poor. The country is rich and produc- 
tive, but there is no special opportunity for 
Americans in this, or any other British island. 
I have not found any Americans who considered 
themselves really welcome as residents among 
the people, or who felt that they had received, 
or would receive, entire justice in dealing with 
colonial officials in tropical British colonies. 
So it was in Barbadoes and the smaller islands; 
all of them places of the most charming beauty, 
desirable for tourists and salesmen, but none 
of them favourable places for permanent resi- 
dences and investment on the part of Americans. 

I found Porto Rico gradually emerging from 
its period of depression, a beautiful island rich 
in small opportunities, where patient industry 
will bring its reward, and fruit-growing seems 
particularly attractive. 

In Hayti I found a country sinking into 
barbarism, a place where a foreigner takes great 
risks even when doing nothing. When I stopped 
there, a revolution was brewing, and going 
about was difficult. Guards were at most of 
the cities, and my presence gave them an oppor- 



tunity to display their authority, and I was 
watched with care and caution. At Port au 
Prince I found the guards at one of the gates 
sleeping, and I slipped past them out into the 
country. There is no fairer land in all the world 
than this island of Hayti, and the country sur- 
rounding the city of Port au Prince was par- 
ticularly interesting. I wandered about alone 
for some hours, and late in the afternoon made 
my way up one of the hills overlooking the 
harbour. Here I found a deserted stone build- 
ing, the doors standing open; I thought to 
enter, but as a precaution gave a smart knock 
on the door with my walking-stick. Instantly, 
like a swarm of black ants, a lot of negro sol- 
diers came crowding out of the doors; aroused 
from sleep, they now stood open-mouthed at the 
intrusion. Apparently I was in a scrape, but 
I stood my ground, looking at them steadily. 
Then I made a motion as if I wished to pass 
the fort. This was energetically forbidden, and 
I made them think I was disappointed and 
angry ; a subterfuge which had the desired 
effect, because it gave them an opportunity to 
exercise authority and command obedience, their 
most dearly cherished ambition, and I was or- 


dered violently to retrace my steps and go down 
the mountain. This I did with a show of reluc- 
tance, but inwardly glad to get away and to 
allow them to shout their orders out after me 
till I was out of sight. 

From Hayti I went to Jamaica, the best and 
most beautiful of all the British colonies in 
America. I remained some time on the island, 
where I found many courteous people, whom I 
remember with the highest regard. This island 
has been so ably and so frequently described that 
little remains to be said in regard to it. The 
lands are fertile, and many of its regions are 
of unrivalled beauty; picturesque mountains, 
tropical glades, and charming plantations, all 
claim the delighted attention of travellers. 
The negroes do not have the highest regard for 
Americans, but they are entirely peaceable, and 
I have frequently wondered that this beautiful 
island, where there is every security and unques- 
tionable order, should be so much neglected by 
Americans, who would there find an ideal place 
for a winter home. Perhaps the negroes of 
Kingston, the principal city, make a bad im- 
pression, and It Is a fact that an ugly hack- 
driver Is allowed to block the way of a tourist 



so that, in crossing the street, one must go 
around through the mud if he does not wish to 
use the hack, or a strong black fellow may fol- 
low, impertinently demanding alms, while the 
police officers look on complacently; but this 
is a very small matter, and, outside the city of 
Kingston, Jamaica is most orderly and attract- 
ive, the negroes are good-natured and obliging, 
the roads perfect all over the island, and the 
varied scenes among the mountains and valleys 
a perpetual delight. 

I have travelled pretty much all over the 
island, and am always interested in its people. 
I well remember one beautiful Sunday morning 
when I was stopping with some young engineers 
who were at work on one of Jamaica's famous 
roads. We were sitting in front of the house, 
when an old Baptist preacher came along. He 
was as black as one could imagine, a broad smile 
on his face, and a well-worn Bible under his 
arm. One of the young men made some joking 
remark as he went by. The old man turned 
around, all smiles and energy, took off his hat, 
and, with a sweeping bow, said, " Darh you are 
again, marstar, pokin' fun at me, and I is only 
a-dooin' my duty a-humbly ; but de las' day am 



a-comin', de las' day am a-comin', marstar. 
But I don't think dat you is a-goin' to a bad 
judgment on dat day; by em by, you is again 
to be like Saul, an' do great t'ings for de Lord, 
marstar," and the old man's voice became pa- 
thetic as he added, " because you is able, mars- 
tar; it is all for de Lord's good time, all for 
de Lord's good time, marstar." The young men 
had nothing to say, and the black preacher 
went smiling to his congregation, where, in a 
tumble-down meeting-house, he was shortly 
frightening the wits out of a crowd of astounded 
darkies by his mighty eloquence and pictures 
of the condemnation that was surely coming 
to all of them. 

In the interior parts of Jamaica life is rather 
rough, but one is never far from a handsome 
country-place or a hospitable village. I lived 
in the mountains of Trelawney Parish for a 
time, occupying a hut of two rooms, where the 
wind came sweeping through the gaping cracks, 
and when it rained the hut soon became wet 
inside; but then it was pleasanter than the 
bare ground and open woods. Once a company 
of big red ants found these advantages attract- 
ive ; at first I did not pay any attention to them ; 



they just wandered around in an aimless way, 
and apparently intended no harm; but they 
began to increase, and one damp morning I 
found, on opening a travelling-box, an enor- 
mous nest of them, hundreds and hundreds, and 
they immediately began to contest my rights. 
Some of them had big jaws, and could draw 
blood freely, inflicting a most painful wound. 
I killed them all, and thought I was well rid 
of them, but early next morning I found they 
had taken possession of my bed, and apparently 
objected strongly to my presence. I did not 
intrude on them more than necessary, but some- 
thing began to stir up my feelings, and I was 
out of that bed quicker than I had considered 
it possible, and stood shivering in my pajamas, 
looking on in despair at those disgusting ants 
that were now chasing about over the bedclothes 
with open jaws, trying to catch whatever it was 
that had broken up their rest. Presently they 
went to bed again, and I sat up in the cold, 
watching over them and waiting for the sun 
to rise. Shortly the slaughter began, and of 
course the ants got the worst of it; but that 
did not stop them at all, and next night they 
gathered again and made directly for my bed. 


I tried to be brave and fight them, but they 
were many and I was only one, and so I re- 
treated, gave them the bed, and took to my 
hammock; but they even followed me there, 
and next night I was in doubt whether to give 
them the hammock and take to the bed, or give 
them the bed and take the hammock. The lat- 
ter seemed more prudent, but before turning in 
I killed a few, and put the lantern on the floor. 
The smell of their dead seemed to enrage them, 
and for some reason or other they took the 
lantern as their common enemy, and I fell asleep 
to the sharp clinking of their jaws against the 
tin. This kept them amused, and let me have 
some rest, and so we had a fair arrangement 
for a time, but I was truly glad when, after 
the storm cleared up, the ants went back to 
the woods and meadows, leaving me to occupy 
my hut in security. 

In Jamaica the negroes are unreasonably 
superstitious, and have a great fear of charms 
and spells, which they firmly believe can be 
evoked to do them harm. The following inci- 
dent is a good illustration of their fears: 

I was near the little town of Christiana, col- 
lecting fossils in an open lot where the limestone 



had been weathered down, leaving the specimens 
exposed. I was deeply interested in my work, 
and gave little heed to my surroundings. Even- 
ing was coming on when I noticed a negro boy 
of some fifteen years sitting on the fence, watch- 
ing me with wondering eyes and intense inter- 

I looked at him and said, " Boy, what for you 
look at me so.? " To which he replied, " Suh, 
marstar, what for you want dem 'tone t'ings ? " 

Knowing their superstition and dread, I re- 
plied, " For go kill a man down the mountain." 

Then he looked at me with frightened eyes, 
saying, " Suh, marstar, for true.f^ " and stared 
at me worse than ever; in fact, it seemed as if 
he could not move his frightened eyes from me 
and from the specimens I was gathering. 

Then I said, severely, " Boy, what for you 
look at me so; think I like that.? You mad 
me for true; pretty quick I kill you, too. You 
see dat 'tone t'ing," showing him a specimen 
of a fossil shell ; " now you wait, when I find 
the mate to that, then I kill you, you'll see." 

Then I went on gathering specimens, became 
interested, and thought no more of the fright- 
ened darky sitting on the fence. 



Evening came over the hills, and in the soft 
tropical night that followed quickly after the sun 
had set I was walking slowly down to my lodg- 
ings in the village; but presently my walk was 
disturbed by a black boy tagging after me, now 
coming to my side, and then starting back as 
if in great fear. This continued for some time, 
and I stopped, saying, " Well, my boy, what's 
troubling you? " at which he replied, in a voice 
of beseeching despair, " Mister, general, colonel, 
squire, my lord, marstar, don't ! Oh, don't ! I 
know you can do it, but you ain't goin' for to 
do it," and the long string of titles was repeated 
in most pathetic tones. 

"Don't what?" I asked, surprised. "Why, 
kill me with dem 'tone t'ings," he .answered, 
wildly astonished that I did not remember. 

" Well," I answered, " promise me you will 
never get drunk, and I will let you off this 
time." He promised eagerly, and then ran 
away in the gathering darkness. 

I wonder if he kept his word and earnest 
promise. It would be a good thing if he did, 
for drunkenness is one of the evils in Jamaica. 

The negroes are very susceptible through 
their superstitions, and I am told that one of 



the best methods of protecting one's garden 
from petty thieves is to hang up a black bottle 
with a white feather sticking out of it. 

At another time I was travelling through a 
district known as the Cockpit Country, a pecu- 
liar place where there are great masses of lime- 
stone rocks eroded into all sorts of shapes and 
almost impossible ledges. There is no water 
for miles, though there are numerous sink-holes 
where the rains have worn out deep round hol- 
lows, and the water escapes through the porous 
rocks. These hollows give the name to the 

After going along the trail for some distance, 
my guide told me to walk carefully, because 
if one should slip the fall would never end, as 
there was a pit just by the trail that had no 

Of course I insisted on seeing a place so 
strange, and on being taken there, started to go 
closer to examine it. My guide protested, say- 
ing that a wind would surely come and suck me 
down. This did not seem probable, but I went 
cautiously toward it, while the darky still pro- 
tested, standing first on one foot and then on 
the other. 



I found a great circular opening in the lime- 
stone cliffs, and pushed a stone over the side. 
It disappeared in the black depths, and fell 
with a hissing sound for some seconds till it 
crashed on the bottom; and the rocks trembled 
with the shock, while the darky was scared al- 
most speechless. But after a time his fears were 
overcome, and he eagerly brought stones and big 
rocks, urging me to throw them down, saying 
that there were bad things in the bottom. There 
was a big boulder lying just behind the pit, 
and together we pried it over. As it fell, the 
rushing sound almost took my breath away, and 
the crash which followed shook all the rocks till 
I thought they would tumble down around us. 
I had quite enough then, and went on looking 
for other things; and as I went I heard my 
black guide saying to himself, " Well, a nigger 
could no more 'a' looked down dat pit without 
the wind took him; but de white man, dat dif- 

This shows the deep respect that the negro 
of Jamaica has for the white man, and indicates 
how safe one is among them, and an incivility 
has been rare. The island possesses every ad- 
vantage, beautiful scenery, clear, cool moun- 



tain air in the uplands, and the hot, dreamy 
tropics along the coast; there is the most su- 
perb sea-bathing at many places, and all over 
the island the driving roads are a delight to 
the tourist. There are hot sulphur springs and 
other medicinal waters, and the future of this 
tropical island, with its security and stable gov- 
ernment, is bright indeed, and each year the 
winter colony is increasing. 

From Jamaica I went to Cuba, a republic in 
which we are deeply interested, but unfortu- 
nately our interest is treated with distrust. The 
Cubans want to be free, as they call it. They 
have never known freedom, and cannot but 
dread any control on the part of a foreign 
government, and so do not realize that free 
America would be quite different from tyranni- 
cal Spain ; but they have suffered so much from 
foreign control that they dread it, and want 
to be entirely independent, with their own gov- 
ernment; and who can blame them, even if 
they are not wise, and reject their great and 
probably only opportunity to become a part 
of the mightiest republic the world has ever 

Cuba has been thoroughly written up, agri- 



cultural resources and mining wealth; and 
shrewd natives who trade, not too scrupulously 
perhaps, and demanding more than their prod- 
ucts are worth, often refuse to sell for fear 
that the purchaser might be obtaining an ad- 
vantage; or who endeavour to obtain terms by 
alleging that offers favourable to themselves 
had been made, though at first they had offered 
any conditions themselves in order to secure a 
prospective customer's interest. An incident 
illustrating their methods may be interesting. 
While stopping at Havana, I was told that a 
Cuban general wished to talk to me in regard 
to mines. Certainly I was pleased to see him, 
and went to the place appointed for our meet- 

I found a rather untidy, ill-appearing gen- 
tleman, who told me that, while wandering about 
Cuba with the revolutionary army, he and some 
other officers had discovered a number of mines, 
all of which they had carefully noted, and now 
wished to find a mining expert who would go 
with them to see which of the different proper- 
ties indicated were valuable, and provide the 
small amount required for taking out the title, 
for which service they offered a half interest 



in their discoveries. This looked like good busi- 
ness, and I said I would consider the matter, and 
agreed to meet them next day. 

My next interview was with the whole com- 
bination, people strongly suggestive of brigands, 
and I fell to wondering what they might be 
after, and now made cautious answers to their 
questionings. However, negotiations were con- 
tinued, and a paper was prepared for signature ; 
then one of the men said, " When will you pay 
the hundred dollars? " 

" What hundred dollars ? " I asked. 

" The money you promised for each mine 
we show you." 

" Oh ! " I replied, waiting to hear more. 

" Certainly," he continued, " we understand 
that you agree to pay us one hundred dollars 
for our services in showing you each of the 
mines." The general added hastily, addressing 
the company, " Do not concern yourselves ; we 
are dealing with a gentleman," bowing to me, 
" who will not contend over a sum so small in 
such an important business. The gentleman re- 
members what he said." 

But the gentleman did not remember, and I 
told them plainly that, while I was ready for 



enterprises, I would have nothing to do with any 
business where my associates attempted to make 
money out of me rather than out of the business. 
Then I left them ; their game was too apparent, 
and I had seen enough of it. 

This illustrates a condition which one must 
expect in many Cuban transactions. They all 
endeavour to draw one on to consider a propo- 
sition, and then seek to add conditions favour- 
able to themselves, after they think one is 
sufficiently interested; sometimes even after 
verbal agreements had been made; but always 
some condition to be added which had not been 
spoken of at first. 

Then, at exaggerations our Cuban friends 
are past masters. I went to examine a chromium 
mine in the Santa Clara Hills, which the owner 
said was one of the most valuable in Cuba. He 
showed me assays of the mineral, and orders for 
large shipments from well-known consumers, 
and was so sure that abundant ore was in sight 
that I agreed to go and look at his property. 
After some trouble and expense I reached the 
place, a beautiful location among rolling grassy 
hills, but all the mine we could find consisted of 
a few bits of chromic ore scattered about on the 



surface, where there was an extensive serpentine 
formation, a possible but not very encouraging 
prospect. Yet the owner had described ledges 
of pure chromium ore, and splendid facilities 
for extraction. He had made contracts for de- 
livering to the steamers when he should receive 
orders, and he was sending all over Europe and 
America soliciting purchasers for cargo lots, and 
all because he had found a little float ore on the 

These are illustrations of Cuban business 
methods. Opportunities are not lacking in that 
beautiful island, but its people are overgreedy, 
imaginative in the extreme, so Americans must 
be cautious. 

I was disappointed in the chromium mines, 
but I was delighted with the Santa Clara Hills. 
In Havana I had been told to beware of brig- 
ands and dangerous men, but I found only a 
kindly disposed peasantry such as I have met 
at all country places throughout Spanish Amer- 

I travelled over the greater portion of Cuba, 
and found a rich, attractive island, the resources 
mostly agricultural. The lands are flat for the 
greater part. Only in the eastern portions of 



the island are there mountains of any consid- 
erable elevation. Much of the island is sur- 
rounded by swamps and lagoons, succeeded by 
broad, rich plains and then the low hills of 
portions of the interior. 

When my examination in Cuba had been fin- 
ished, I returned to New York, having travelled 
over all the regions surrounding the Caribbean 





I HAVE alluded several times to a kindly dis- 
posed peasantry found all through Spanish 
America. Frequently, in and near the cities, 
dangerous characters are met; out in the coun- 
try, where rum is scarce, especially in the more 
elevated regions, sobriety, intelligence, and in- 
dustry rule ; and if it were not for the frequent 
revolutions, originating in the cities, the Span- 
ish Americans of the uplands and the country 
places would soon make prosperous regions of 
their beautiful republics. 

An incident in closing will illustrate their 

For some time I have been directing the devel- 
opment of properties belonging to the South 
American Land and Exploration Co., Ltd., in 
Colombia. I have always thought it best to urge 



any work that I might have on hand, and have 
secured a rather peculiar reputation among my 
men, who speak of me as the person who never 
rests. A touching incident occurred because of 
this urgent haste in my undertakings while I 
was away from the property. One of my best 
men lay dying. A burning fever was on him, 
contracted because of over exposure in one of 
the heavy rains of that country. He was delir- 
ious, and fancied that I was coming and would 
be wanting him to start at once for some expe- 
dition. In vain the Priest bending over him 
said, " Manuel, you will never go to the woods 
with Doctor Nicholas again. Think of other 
things now; you are dying." 

" No, no," he replied, " get the mules ready, 
get the canoe. Doctor Nicholas is coming. We 
will be going to-day; he will never wait." 

The priest expostulated, gently trying to 
draw his attention to the life beyond, but Man- 
uel would not hear him, and, rising up suddenly 
in his bed, cried, " I told you Doctor Nicholas 
was coming ; there he is now." Then my f aith-^ 
ful guide and companion fell back dead. 

Manuel had been a leader among the rough 
men of the north coast of Colombia, and the 



next time I visited DibuUa, a little town near 
the company's property, the story was told to 
me just as I have written it here, but it was more 
impressive. I was surrounded by his sorrowing 
friends, sorrowing with them for our loss. 

As I write now, I wonder if it has fallen to 
the lot of many men to have contended with 
difficulties such as I have met, and to have been 
served through them all as I have been served. 





3 ^Dflfi Don3Em 7 

cris F1432.N63X 
Around the Caribbean and across Panama;